"My Hero, My Soldier Laddie"

Part of Decision Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:13 pm on 10th June 2010.

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Photo of Andy Kerr Andy Kerr Labour 5:13 pm, 10th June 2010

I congratulate Christina McKelvie warmly on securing the debate. The motion says so much, but I also warmly welcome her speech, which gives an insight not only into how the book came about but the thoughts and values that are inherent in its content.

I have had the pleasure of attending veterans day in East Kilbride over many years and have had the opportunity to discuss with veterans who are still with us their courage and their endeavours, and to recognise those. The things that those people went through and the valour and courage that they showed are almost unthinkable to us—perhaps there are a few exceptions to that among members—and we deserve to recognise them.

Christina McKelvie talks about Scotland's rich history and the books that we have in common. I remember reading "McCrae's Battalion", which is about Hearts football club in the first world war. It is a heart-rending story, but it also gives the reader a social consciousness. It brings Scotland's history together and allows us to understand some of the values that were applied at that time to footballers, who were seen to be dodging the war. If members recall the story, those footballers went off to war and most of the team were wiped out in a single action.

Such books bring together our rich history. They are a great reminder to us, young and old alike, of the contribution that individuals have made to Scotland and the UK and to our lives in general. It was interesting to learn about the proud role that people from Lanarkshire have played in our armed forces and the number of VCs that they have gained. It is right that many members from Lanarkshire are here for the debate. I, too, welcomed the unveiling of the arch memorial in Hamilton. We should ensure that our children see such memorials and we should talk to them about the issue, so that we can create an understanding and so help to avoid the catastrophic wars that sadly continue throughout the world. We must try to educate and allow people to understand the contribution that people such as those who are mentioned in the book have made over the years to our nation and the lives of the people of Scotland and beyond.

I thank Christina McKelvie for the motion and for drawing the Parliament's attention to the book. I hope that it will continue to play a part in creating the respect that we must all show those who serve Scotland and the nation generally.