National Armed Forces Day is a hugely significant day in the calendar and Edinburgh has a packed and colourful programme of events planned in West Princes Street Gardens this afternoon.
It brings to a close a week’s worth of celebrations, which began on Monday with the unveiling of the official Armed Forces Day flag at the City Chambers.
It is fundamentally important to me as Lord Provost and veterans champion that we continue to show our support and gratitude for the risks taken by both serving personnel and veterans to keep us safe. This is particularly true as we countdown to the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War next year, for which we are planning a fitting commemoration here in Edinburgh.
We already have a proud tradition of recognising our military service personnel – something that didn’t go unnoticed when we were chosen two years ago as host city for the National Armed Forces Day celebrations. It was a spectacular sight to see 2500 military personnel, veterans and cadets parade through the city.
Armed Forces Day provides an opportunity to recognise and pay tribute to the whole military service personnel and veterans community. Organisations such as Veterans Scotland do so much to support our ex-servicemen and raise awareness of the importance of looking after our personnel once they return home.
It also means a great deal to those personnel who are currently serving that we at home are thinking of them. This is a real morale boost and is a great support to the families and communities left behind.
Recognition must also be given to those adult volunteers who provide unstinting commitment to Cadet organisations, enabling generations of youngsters to achieve success in life and to become better citizens.
I would encourage you to come into town today to enjoy the music, events, parades and displays – but also to reflect upon the sacrifices being made each and every day by so many courageous men and women who put their lives at risk for this country.
• The Rt Hon Donald Wilson is the Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost of Edinburgh.