Students from the island’s secondary schools will join in the commemorations as the Isle of Man marks Armed Forces Day next month.
They will join veterans and currently serving local men and women in a march along Douglas promenade from 2.30pm on Sunday, June 29.
The students will also take part in a church service that follows at the Villa Marina. In what is always a moving highlight of the service, serving personnel returning to the island for the occasion are welcomed into the Royal Hall with a standing ovation.
The event has greater significance this year as the island marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Veterans of the Second World War are among those who will participate in the march and service.
Tim Crookall MHK, Minister for Education and Children, said: ‘It’s poignant to see young people marching alongside veterans of World War Two, later campaigns and serving personnel, and touching to see students mingling and chatting with veterans at the tea that follows the service. Our schools enjoy taking part in this event as it links the past and the present in a way that can’t be replicated in the classroom.’
Brigadier Norman Butler CBE chairs the Armed Forces’ Day committee, which is made up of representatives of all the island’s ex-service organisations. Brigadier Butler said: ‘Armed Forces Day is a Manx national day that recognises and celebrates the service given by so many Manx men and women through the two world wars and in more recent conflicts.
The Brigadier continued: ‘We are fortunate to have a significant number of serving personnel to march with us. The bulk of veterans marching are national servicemen. We still have a few who served in the war, together with a number of veterans with more recent service.’
He praised the continuing involvement of the island’s school students, who have participated in every Armed Forces Day for the last six years:
‘The number of veterans participating is ever-dwindling, so we are delighted that so many of our youngsters join us, showing such interest and enthusiasm. This gives us the hope that the memory of the sacrifice made by so many in the past to preserve our future will continue to be honoured.’
The Isle of Man Government’s armed forces champion Juan Watterson said: ‘Armed Forces Day is one of the major occasions in the year that brings the armed forces and the wider community together. It is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the sacrifice given by so many and honour those who have fought for our country.
‘It is gratifying that so many units with links to the island make the special effort to join us for this event and I hope as many people as possible will repay that effort by joining in and attending Armed Forces Day.’
Application forms for tickets for Armed Forces Day, which are free, can be obtained from the Villa Marina box office, the Manx Welcome Centre at the Sea Terminal, the Manx Legion Club in Douglas or Commissioners’ offices, or by returning the form that will appear in next week’s Examiner and Isle of Man Courier to Ann Wilson at 1 Kensington Avenue, Douglas, IM1 3ET.