Homeless Veterans Appeal: Help them to face their own No Man's Land this Christmas


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The Independent Online

Those who fought in the First World War continue to be an inspiration to many of us. Their courage, their camaraderie, sometimes their stoical acceptance of events, meld into a quiet heroism that we can only admire and learn from.

For that is where real military history lies, in the hearts and memories of those who fought, wherever or whenever that was. If we listen to their stories, repeated again and again down the decades, we might learn how little war can achieve.

The quiet heroes are still with us, the Second World War veterans, of which fewer and fewer remain, and those who've served in conflicts around the world in the years since.

We must extend the same respect to all of those who have served in today's Armed Forces. Wherever they were stationed, whenever they leave their life of soldiering, however old they are – some will struggle as they face civilian life. We need to recognise this and we have a responsibility to ensure that, whatever their challenges, they have a place to call home. It's a fitting recognition of the sacrifices they have made and something of a tribute to those who served before them.

The writing of War Horse was inspired by a veteran from the First World War, a generation now lost to us. Right now, we have a new generation to take care of, who still share that feeling of kinship and survival.

The Christmas truce match, or matches, that marked the Christmas of 1914, show the power of the human spirit to triumph. We take great comfort knowing that soldiers reached across No Man's Land and found kinship in the most unlikely situation.

The message of helping soldiers who find themselves in a kind of No Man's Land today is a powerful one, especially at this time of year. Donating to the Homeless Veterans Appeal can help prevent soldiers and veterans facing their own No Man's Land this Christmas.

Michael Morpurgo is the author of 'War Horse'