THE two era-defining events during my life have both happened on 9/11.

What the Americans call '9/11' - 11 September - saw the Al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington DC in 2001.

We are still living with the consequences of that day, most notably with the brave commitment being made by British soldiers in Afghanistan.

And what Europeans would call '9/11' - 9 November - saw the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. World leaders have gathered in the German capital to mark the twentieth anniversary of the event that symbolised the end of the Cold War.

The collapse of the Eastern European communist states brought liberation to millions of previously oppressed people. For the first time they enjoyed freedoms that we can sometimes undervalue due to familiarity: free elections, free markets, free speech, free media and freedom of association. It was a genuinely great moment in history that is worthy of celebration.

This week also sees our annual national commemoration of the sacrifices made to protect our freedoms in Britain.

This year's Remembrance Sunday services in Taunton and Wellington were very well attended, and given additional poignancy by the situation in Afghanistan and by the death a few months ago of the last survivor of the trenches, Somerset's Harry Patch.

What brings all of these commemorations together - from World War One to the present day - is the enduring reminder that our freedoms are precious, should not be taken for granted, and that we should honour those who defend them for us while remaining vigilant about defending them for ourselves.