Great response leaves opposition councillors gutted as Nick Griffin lays wreath in Bury.
Nick Griffin laid his personal Remembrance Day wreath in the town of Bury, Lancashire this year. In his third annual official Remembrance Day appearance since being elected an MEP, Mr. Griffin joined the Lord Lieutenant and local MP David Nuttall at the head of the wreath-laying party in the middle of Bury's traditionally large and impressive Remembrance Day parade.
The response to Nick's presence in Bury at the Rememberance Day Ceremony? "Good on you - thanks for speaking out, and turning up!"
"In my first two years I laid wreaths in Burnley and Salford. Both those ceremonies were very moving and well organised, but I've never seen a Remembrance Day parade outside of central London as powerful and impressive as the one put on in Bury on Sunday. It was an enormous honour to take part," says Mr. Griffin.
"Although I had received an official invitation (together, no doubt, with all the North West's other MEPs) and had confirmed that I would attend, the organisers and police seemed genuinely unaware in advance that I was going. The Labour councillors especially were appalled; so much so that they felt unable to come into the room in the Town Hall where coffee and biscuits had been laid on before the parade because I was there!"
Nick remarked, however, "the police, council officials and Bury's Conservative MP were, by contrast, thoroughly professional and very polite throughout."
Led by a full red-coated military band, the parade marched from the Town Hall to the war memorial near Bury church. There were contingents of veterans from all the services as well as detachments of serving soldiers and from the emergency services. The streets were lined with people who applauded as each unit marched smartly by. The group of veterans in wheelchairs - mainly from World War Two but also several younger men from more recent conflicts - were particularly well received.
After the Two Minute Silence at 11 a.m., wreaths were laid by the Lord Lieutenant and a senior army officer, Bury's Lady Mayoress, David Nuttall MP and by Mr. Griffin. They were followed by several dozens more wreaths laid by local councillors and representatives of the armed forces, veterans' associations and voluntary organisations.
At the end of the ceremony, all the dignitaries filed past a guard of honour into Bury's magnificent Victorian Gothic church for a full service. "The hymns were well chosen and were clearly familiar to nearly all of us in the congregation, although the sad thing is that so few schools hold regular assembly services these days that very few younger people know any of our traditional hymns for such events.
Nick stated,"Still, this service finished with a very rousing 'Jerusalem' and the way in which this hymn has been revived and turned into a second national anthem in the last few years shows that bad trends can be turned around and good traditions can be given a new lease of life."
"All over the country, there have been reports that this year's Armistice Day and Remembrance Day commemorations were the best attended for many years," notes Mr. Griffin. "Local people I spoke with afterwards said that the Bury one has grown steadily in recent years too. They were rightly proud of their town's showing this year."
At the end of the church service there was a final march past of the colour party, bands and official detachments. Once again, large crowds applauded the parade. Various old party councilors were clearly shocked at the number of Bury residents who made a point of coming up to shake Mr. Griffin's hand, thank him for being the only MEP to come to Bury, and to have their photos taken with him.
"All in all, it was a tremendous day," says Nick. "The whole event was much longer than other Remembrance Day events I've been to in the past, so much so that I had to rush to get home to pick up luggage on the way to Strasbourg via a meeting in Eastern Region that evening. But I wouldn't have missed it for the world."
"The best bit? The Cubs and Brownies laying their tributes to the Fallen. Scarcely a dry eye in the crowd as a new generation stepped forward to acknowledge our debt and to begin to play their part in our eternal island story."