The EU Referendum / by James Heywood

Evening all, 

So I know it's a bit last minute but I had to get this down in writing and off my mind. 

I am voting to remain in the EU as I think closing our eyes, minds and hearts to Europe is a terrible way to live, we need to embrace both the things we share and our differences and also celebrate the wonderful variety of cultures and experiences we are exposed to by being a part of something larger and greater than just this small island we live on. There are so many reasons to remain I barely have the time to write them down in a form that makes sense, so I will focus on just one reason.

This spring my Nana passed away, she was ninety years old when she died and although it was and still is sad, she had a good innings. She was born in 1926, her father was a Major in the Great War. She left school at the age of fourteen in 1940 and like many of her generation she helped the war effort. She stamped ration books during the war, after the war she met my Grandfather and they married, they had three children, one of who was my Mother, and in time she met my Dad and they had my brother and I.

My Grandfather served as a Royal Engineer in Myanmar (or Burma as he called it) during the war, he never spoke much of it but towards the end of his life (he passed away seven years ago) he did describe one occasion when he and his unit were ambushed as they were constructing a bridge. He witnessed many of his close friends die on that day as they stood beside him. He and the few survivors were given two weeks leave and an advance of their pay to drink it out of their system, then it was back to the fight.

I never really knew my Grandfather on my father's side, my memories of him were long after the Parkinson's had set in and he was a shadow of the man I have heard about from my parents, I am told he doted on my brother and I. I presume he helped during the war as did most people of fighting or working age of his generation. My Grandmother on my Father's side made ammunition during the war. If you are of a similar age to me then most if not all of your Grandparents, like mine, contributed in some way to fighting the good fight.

The European Union was formed as a direct response to the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime during the 2nd world war. Upwards of ten million people were systematically murdered by the Nazis and after the war the nations of Europe rightly stood up and resolved to not let this happen again. To do so they formed closer ties to ensure that despite the inevitable differences the peoples of Europe would have in the future, they would not result in the kind of barbarity that the world had just suffered.

For me, a vote to leave Europe is a rejection of and insult to the memory of our Grandparents and what they and so many of their generation, across the whole of our great continent, fought and died for. 

To allow short term, alarmist rhetoric and fear sway a decision on such an important issue would be an utter disgrace. Whatever you may feel about immigration, nationality, culture, jobs or economics it doesn't matter, some things are more important than our individual needs or desires, some things need people to stand up and be counted. 

Our Grandparents made a stand so that we could have a discussion and make a decision on issues like this, please do not turn your back on them, please do not let their memory down.

Thanks for reading,