Press Releases

Gordon Brown – 2008 Podcast on the Armistice

The text of the podcast made by Gordon Brown, the then Prime Minister, on 11 November 2008.

It was 90 years ago today that the guns of the Western front fell silent, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

This morning I will welcome to Downing Street our last world war one veterans and their families. Today we are blessed that these survivors remain with us, our living link with momentous events that happened before our time. In honouring them we can give our thanks for the sacrifices made by so many.

But for those who did not return from the battlefields, those who “gave their tomorrow for our today”, we will take time to remember and to grieve at war memorials across our land.

The presence of moving memorials in thousands of council chambers, assembly halls and market squares stands as an eternal testament to the fact that no British city, no British town, no British village went untouched by the horror, no family escaped without grief, each school had its representatives among the fallen.

The memorials remind us of the sheer scale of the sacrifice and the breadth of the courage to be found in that generation of Britons.

But so too do they remind us of something even deeper – that while each of us is unique we are not sufficient unto ourselves but citizens, members of a community with shared interests, mutual needs and linked destines.

We owe obligations to others because they are part of what we are. I will always remember the inscription on the Scottish memorial to the war dead. It says “the whole earth is the tomb of heroes and their story is not only graven in stone over their clay but abides everywhere without visible symbol – woven into the stuff of other men’s lives.”

And so today we remember all that is woven into the stuff of our lives. We remember the heroism of those who served in Korea, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, the gulf and the Balkans, and the brave men and women who today wear the British uniform in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It was hoped that the Great War would be the war to end all wars but sadly that was not the case. Sacrifices continue to be made by those who serve in our armed forces today and, whilst the numbers involved are thankfully not on the scale of world war one, the individual cost can remains the same.

My thoughts are very much with all the men and women of our armed forces, serving with such distinction at home and overseas, and my thoughts are also with their families.

So let us today pay tribute and give thanks to all who wear the British uniform, all who carry our flag and all who risk or have given their lives that our country can remain strong and free.

Our gratitude is unbounded your heroism unsurpassed. You are in our thoughts today and always. Thank you.