Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech to Congress of the Confederation of Reserve Officers reception

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Guildhall, City of London
Source: Thatcher Archive: transcript
Editorial comments: Between 2015 and 2045.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 456
Themes: Defence (general), Foreign policy (USA)

My Lord Mayor, Mr President, My Lords, Aldermen, Sheriffs, Ladies and Gentlemen.

First may I join you my Lord Mayor in extending a very warm welcome to Britain to all the participants in this Congress. We are delighted that you have chosen to hold your meeting here with us and I am sure it will be an outstanding success. This ancient Guildhall where we are this evening has seen so much history. Of course, that history has included its fair share of battles and most of the countries represented here tonight have fought each other at one time or another.

Only last week we lit beacons right across England to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Spanish Armada. Four hundred years ago, villages and townsfolk turned out to repel the threatened invasion by Spain. Now Britain and Spain are allies in NATO. Indeed, all the countries here are members of that great alliance, committed to defending liberty and with the prospect of war between us vanished forever. And in very recent history, this great Guildhall witnessed President Reagan 's historic speech on his return from his Summit Meeting in Moscow which held out the prospect of a more peaceful world. I have heard him many times. He was never better than in this setting of history and …   .

One thing we have learnt from history is that you can never take peace for granted. Weakness is an invitation to an aggressor. It is strength and preparedness which keep the peace. Surely, arms are the props of peace. That is why your confederation has such a vital role by campaigning for strong defences and encouraging every citizen to play his part in defending liberty.

And of course strong reserve forces are essential to our security. They have a vital role to play in defence, alongside the regular forces. They are also an essential link between the professional soldiers and the ordinary people so that everyone can feel involved in our defence. I know that service in the reserve forces places great demands on you and [end p1] your families. It requires the sacrifice of time and a strong sense of duty. But what an important part duty plays in the life of democracy. But it is because people like you, in every one of our countries, are prepared to make the sacrifice that we can be confident of our defences, confident of our liberties and confident of our future. May I thank you all for the magnificent work you do and wish you well.

And finally, may I turn to one who has himself given long and distinguished service as a Reserve Officer and extend the thanks of all of us to you my Lord Mayor, and to the Corporation of the City of London, for your generous hospitality tonight. It will be an evening which all of us will remember as we return to our homes, strengthened by the comradeship and the sense of working together for the greatest of all causes—the defence of liberty and justice.