The decision by the Green Howards to spend £3,000 buying a dilapidated French shelter raises the question of who should pay for preserving the past.

It was June 6, 1944, when Middlesbrough-born Sgt Major Stan Hollis charged up the Normandy beach and, in his first action of the day, unloaded his Lewis machinegun into the shelter which, it was feared, was housing enemy gunners.

From there, Sgt Major Hollis turned his attention to two hidden pill boxes from where enemy fire was threatening to wipe out his platoon. Singlehandedly capturing both pill boxes - and 22 Germans - he was later awarded the Victoria Cross for his D-Day valour.

The shelter is the area's only surviving building of the time and will now provide a lasting tribute to the D-Day forces.

Meanwhile, at Durham Tees Valley Airport, the sacrifice of Andrew Mynarski VC has been marked in the form of a statue of the Canadian airman.

The unforgettable memory I shall take from the unveiling of the statue is how the hairs on the back of my neck tingled as a Lancaster bomber swept from behind the trees and roared over our heads. It gave a taste of what the airfield must have felt like during the wartime sorties of Mynarski and his colleagues.

The statue is magnificent, as was the moving address by the editor of The Northern Echo, Peter Barron, who paid tribute to everyone who had made the day possible.

Everyone that is except himself. So I shall take it upon myself to congratulate Peter for overseeing, not only the day, but the Forgotten Hero appeal.

The Mynarski statue and the French shelter pay rightful tribute to heroes of the past, but they also encourage future generations to learn from that past.

Unfortunately, not everyone respects the past. I was saddened to discover a statue of Henry Bolckow in Middlesbrough's Exchange Square has been vandalised.

With John Vaughan, his business partner, Bolckow set up an ironworks that would have a global impact. This business led to the population of Middlesbrough expanding from 5,000 in 1841, to 40,000 in just 30 years.

Bolckow gave several buildings to the town, a public park and also funded the area's first hospital - the North Riding Infirmary.

He is buried alongside Vaughan in Marton cemetery but, sad to say, their graves are now in a dilapidated state.

Some might argue that the council should stump up the money to renovate their last resting place. But we have just learned that hundreds of headstones in town cemeteries will have to be laid flat as they present a safety hazard.

I know many would be uncomfortable about using public money to preserve the graves of two industrialists whilst other graves stand forlorn.

But I am concerned at the impression visitors have when they see the state of the Bolckow and Vaughan graves. It also doesn't help in our efforts to educate youngsters about respecting the past.

The Green Howards are fortunate in that retired businessman Sir Ernest Harrison donated the money to buy the shelter that Stan Hollis stormed. Perhaps we need to research whether Sir Ernest has any local connections.