WASN’T Saturday a fabulous occasion! I don’t mean the event at Hudson’s Field (by the time my brain had realised that it was happening it had sold out!) I mean the military parade through the town centre.

I met up with a group of Chelsea Pensioners who had come down from London to take part in the parade at Sarum College the night before.

“If it’s too hot, they won’t let us march,” said one ruefully, resplendent in his Scarlet. His challenging look made it clear that he would never consider it too hot.

The parade was due to start at 9.45am. I figured 9.15 would secure me a good place in the crowd. How wrong could I be. I threaded my way through the crowds to wedge myself into a space outside Café Nero on the corner from the High Street.

It was an impressive occasion, the cavalry, the bands, the red arrows overhead, the 1,000 service men and women from all three services marching in step, the Chelsea Pensioners and the hardware (my son appreciated the photo of a tank passing Reeves).

More impressive, were the crowds. Everyone from the city seemed to be there; to enjoy the spectacle, yes, but also to show their appreciation for the members of the armed services and the important part they play in our society.

Regular readers will know that I am no pacifist; I believe that injustice, inhumanity and oppression need to be called out and confronted. Regrettably, on occasions, that will involve the use of force.

And it’s on these (thankfully rare) occasions that we turn to members of our armed forces to do that for us. It was heartwarming to see the whole city turn out on Saturday to pay tribute to those who, in the final analysis, may be called on to make the ultimate sacrifice.

But it is also worth recalling our obligation too. I was chatting to a D-Day veteran the other day. “I think about it all the time,” he said. “You always remember the lads who didn’t come back. We had to do it though, looking at what happened to the Jews… We all worked together towards peace.”

The recent G20 summit communique spoke about ‘geopolitical tensions having intensified’. The peace which was so hard won and so bloodily fought seems now more fragile than ever. The rise of European nationalism and American isolationism is horrifyingly reminiscent of the 1930’s.

We owe it to those that died on the beaches of Normandy, not only to remember them, but to be generous in our dealings with other countries; to honour their memory and those that serve today by making sure that it never happens again and that we do all we can to work closely, collaboratively and humbly with other nations.