I have had the privilege of speaking with a number of Veterans which has been a delight, and what they told me alongside other research and trustee input has enabled the BSMF to write a plan for the next five years and beyond. It is an honourable endeavour, ambitious and, at its most excellent, will require significant funding
Why do we need to do this rather than leave it to others? The simple answer is trust. Burma Star Veterans are all too aware they suffered because they were never ‘the priority’ yet they nonetheless triumphed with the most diverse, multi-cultural army ever assembled in the toughest environments against a cruel, ruthless foe. In a nutshell – it’s emotional. They subscribe therefore to ‘if a job’s worth doing, do it yourself’, so this most important task of all, they want done by their own!
We unapologetically label the three pillars of the charity; Benevolence, Remembrance and Legacy. We have forensically examined them with two central questions; Why, and why the BSMF? The primary factors as a backdrop were:
• The significant structural changes to both input and output.
• In the last few years the Charity has fully absorbed its forebears (namely The Burma Star Association and Branches) but at the same time reduced in size whilst investing in a legacy scholarship programme.
• As benevolence and reunions for Veterans come to an end, long-term remembrance and legacy come into sharper focus.
The loudest message from Veterans is “make sure we are not forgotten… again, so either invest that responsibility to others you trust or have a go yourself. Whilst you may well fail and indeed be embarrassed in the process, what have you got to lose?”
The key realisation for me is they want the sacrifice and triumph in adversity to be remembered but the responsibility should be held by one of their own, whom they trust. Not only is this a sad commentary on some other charities and organisations, but it is a heavy burden for the BSMF.
So...... we continue to look after our own through benevolence and celebration of the lives that remain with us; we continue to build the remembrance piece and have opened discussions with the National Memorial Arboretum, the Kohima Museum, the Chindit Society and 77th Brigade and, we have our ambitious legacy piece: through a broadening of the scholarships, to include Burma Star military awards and other academic studies, by lobbying Government and the Royal British Legion for a more structured recognition of the Burma Campaign; and by developing a big media idea. More details are in this brochure but please contact me as well.
The time is now. We cannot rely on future generations to finance this vision. They will carry the torch forward but we have to put in place the necessary funding as we have a very personal connection. Will it work? Who knows, but it is worth a determined effort. We need the awards and scholarships endowed to circumvent long-term fundraising for a sustainable living memorial.
Think of the likes of Burma Veteran, Captain Sir Tom Moore: it is his spirit we want to embody and preserve for future generations.