This Sunday, thousands of people will gather at Horse Guards’ Parade in Whitehall in memory of Jews who fell fighting for this country. Some 300 Jewish soldiers died in the First World War and 75,000 served in the Second World War, but the The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX) routinely emphasises how Jews have been serving the sovereign for more than 300 years.
Up to 2,000 Jewish veterans and armed forces personnel are expected to be joined by schools, community organisations and youth groups from across the country, as well as the Jewish Police Association and families and supporters.
Even if you are one of the fortunate ones who did not lose a relative in the world wars of the last century or the conflicts since, Sunday’s powerful and deeply evocative event offers a chance to reflect on the sacrifices of fellow Jews who gave their lives so we can enjoy the freedoms we do. We live in an age where politics and opinions have never been more bitterly divided, but on one thing we can all agree – the immeasurable debt we owe these soldiers.
As AJEX chair Mike Bluestone movingly put it this week: “Antisemitism is on the rise here, in Europe and the US, so it is once again important that we fly the flag and show that we did serve loyally, we paid the price and continue to serve today. It’s our way of saying thank you to this country.”