On the 25th Anniversary of the UK's liberation of the Falkland Islands from Argentina, one couldn't find a more fitting tribute to the soldiers who fought and died on this small patch of ground in the South Atlantic than the following speech by Lady Thatcher (Thanks to the Margaret Thatcher Foundation for the text). Here's the speech:
I feel privileged, and very moved, in making this broadcast. The Falkland Islanders are celebrating the anniversary of their liberation. The memories of that time are for many as fresh as yesterday. Such intense experience unites us in spirit - even though a quarter-century has passed, and though we are eight thousand miles apart.For me, I'd like to send my utmost congratulations to the soldiers who fought and died in the Falklands and for Lady Thatcher having the temerity and stand-pattness in leading these soldiers to such a victory.
Today, I send my very best wishes to them – you are in my thoughts and in my prayers.
Twenty-five year ago British forces secured a great victory in a noble cause. The whole nation rejoiced at the success; and we should still rejoice. Aggression was defeated and reversed. The wishes of local people were upheld as paramount. Britain’s honour and interests prevailed. Sending troops into battle is the gravest decision that any Prime Minister has to take. To fight eight thousand miles away from home, in perilous conditions, against a well armed, if badly led, enemy was bound to be an awesome challenge. Moreover, at such times there is no lack of people, at home and abroad, to foretell disaster. Then, when things go well, they are just as quick to press some hopeless compromise. So we could never at any stage be sure what the outcome of the Falklands War would be. But of two other things I could be sure – first that our cause was just, and second that no finer troops could be found in the world than those of our country.
That is still the case. Britain’s armed services are unmatched in their skill and professionalism. More than that, they are the model of all that we wish our country and our citizens to be. The service they offer and the sacrifice they make are an inspiration.
The Falklands War was a great national struggle. The whole country knew it and felt it. It was also mercifully short. But many of our boys – and girls as well, of course – are today stationed in war zones where the issues are more complex, where the outcome is more problematic, and where life is no less dangerous. In these circumstances, they often need a different sort of courage, though the same commitment.
So, as we recall – and give thanks for – the liberation of our Islands, let us also recall the many battle fronts where British forces are engaged today. There are in a sense no final victories, for the struggle against evil in the world is never ending. Tyranny and violence wear many masks. Yet from victory in the Falklands we can all today draw hope and strength.
Fortune does, in the end, favour the brave. And it is Britain’s good fortune that none are braver than our armed forces. Thank you all.
*Check out John O'Sullivan's The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World for more on Lady Thatcher and the Falklands.