This year, Armed Forces Day falls on Saturday 27th June, with the Armed Forces Day flag being raised the previous Monday across the nation, including at Crawley Town Hall.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the role of the armed forces at home as well as abroad.
Around the country there are more than 100 mobile testing units which are operated by the armed forces. These provide testing where it is needed, enabling key workers and their households to be tested, with results within 48 hours.
I am particularly grateful to the 7 Rifles Reservist soldiers, who are based at Gatwick Airport and operate testing units around West Sussex. Our town appreciates your work, and the part you are playing in ensuring life can return to a semblance of normality.
It is important, however, that we show our gratitude not only on Armed Forces Day, but all year round.
One of the freedoms which our armed forces stand for is the freedom of protest. This does not, it should be said, extend to having permission to vandalise memorials to the fallen.
I am supporting the Desecration of War Memorials Bill which not only designates a specific offence relating to unlawful damage to a war memorial, but would also see an exemption of damage to war memorials from the existing £5,000 damages threshold, see a maximum fine replaced with an unlimited fine, as well as a maximum custodial sentence of 10 years.
It would, of course, be up to the judiciary to decide on sentences for each individual case. This Bill would remove some of the barriers to ensuring justice in such a scenario.
Henry Smith MP