A very good leader by Simon Heffer in this morning's on-line Telegraph. Apologies for posting the whole piece, but I still haven't got the hang of posting links properly. Daily Telegraph 12 November 2005 Simon Heffer on Saturday By Simon Heffer Honour the living as well as the dead Tomorrow could be a Remembrance Day of special significance. The number of Tommies left from the War to end all Wars is now in single figures. By next year they may all be gone. So something we have taken for granted all our lives - being able to ask the men of Kitchener's Army for their memories of that hideous slaughter and epic sacrifice - may be impossible. Once the First World War is consigned to second-hand memory, recorded pictures and the history books, we shall enter a whole new phase of our history. We shall, also, of course, run an ever greater danger of forgetting what our servicemen and women have done for us in circumstances beyond our imagination. Ever since reading in my own father's war diaries how, as a boy of 18 on the second day of the Somme, he marched with his comrades past "rows and rows of unburied dead, with teams of padres reading the burial service over them", I have fought a losing battle with comprehension. So, too, have millions of us. Yet for all our shows of remembrance - and they have become more pronounced as the last old soldiers fade away, with more observance of the two minutes' silence on Armistice Day itself - we are clearly treating our fighting men and their families with greater complacency. It is not just, as I mentioned here last Saturday, the way we have sent a new generation of soldiers into Iraq with inadequate kit, inadequate back-up and inadequate political support in the thankless job they are doing. It is also that, once they have served their country, we have a disregard for their welfare breathtaking in its callousness, and which even the heroic efforts of the Royal British Legion cannot possibly rectify. Yesterday, we reported that more than four million ex-servicemen and women and their dependants were living on less than Â£200 a week. Nearly four and a half million suffered long-term illness, disability or infirmity. About half a million who are in dire straits received no help from anyone. So at this time when we recall the Glorious Dead, we had (if we are a truly compassionate society) better spare a thought for the glorious living, too. What is so offensive about this statistic is that billions of pounds are spent in our welfare budget on infinitely less deserving cases: those who resolutely choose not to work, those who desert their families, those who make a claim on this country without any intention of contributing to it, those who regard having a family at the state's expense as a career option. And politicians, in their gruesome attempts to curry favour with fashionable client groups, expend their compassion on all sorts of causes, except on those who deserve it most. We cannot afford to keep our heroes on more than Â£200 a week, but we can offer salaries in the public sector of three or four times that, quite routinely, to people unemployable in any other walk of life, and who are engaging in activities that are entirely economically and socially unproductive. It is presumably only because we are so used to this act of contempt that we do not become more exercised about it. Frankly, it is time to get bloody angry. Like many other civilised countries, we should have a Minister for Veterans, whose job it is to ensure that these people and their families are properly cared for. Until someone in government has the job of fighting for funding for this excellent cause, there won't be any, and instead ministers will exploit the good work of the RBL. And we should scrap Remembrance Day and move the ceremony to November 11 itself, as always used to be the case. Perhaps by making us down tools, and stopping all the traffic, the full magnitude of what we owe to an almost vanished generation might begin to be brought home to us.