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07 September 2009 @ 09:24 pm
First Battalion, The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Wrexham  
Over the course of Saturday afternoon just gone, the 1st Battalion, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Wrexham paraded through town. A candle was lit for them, and it will continue to burn - I think in St Giles' Church - for the duration of their tour of duty in Afghanistan.

I have my personal opinions about the war, about the politicians who have led this country into it, and my doubts as to their motivations for doing so - which seem to have slid far away from the original objective, which had been ostensibly to locate and detain Osama bin Laden to put him on trial for for 9/11.

However, when you see their faces, you come to know something really important - and I think everyone who's ever had this sort of thing happen, all the soldiers parading before they go off to war and all that, probably thinks this too:-

I know these people.

I've walked up and down the High Street and watched them coming into and out of the shops, herding along their partners and kids. I have stopped in mid stride and let them pass, their arms laden with Christmas shopping as they rushed to catch the bus.

And there is now every possibility that some of them will be coming in through Wootton Basset.

I hope to whatever Gods these men and women pray to that we count them all going out, and we count them all marching back in again. But I will never think the less of these young people, because I know them, and they are good, strong people with a strong sense of duty to something that's bigger than them. I have met their gaze briefly in town, exchanged a word of greeting, maybe smiled a small smile of reassurance to them. Best of luck.

And despite the fact that this is as close as I'll ever get to know them; despite the fact that I may never know their names, or the school where they went, or what their grades were, I find myself thinking that I'd like to be grinning and holding out a hand for them to shake it when they march back, and to be the first in line to offer them a pint when they come into the Green Dragon.

On the house.

Because when it's locals going, it doesn't feel abstract any more. It somehow seems personal.

So, the question I want to ask all of you is this. What have your personal experiences been, either as civilians watching the local soldiers / sailors / airmen walking by, kit in hand, heading for the train, or as the service personnel making their long, long walk to the mustering point and then the trek to God knows where?

No politics. Bury the cynicism and contempt for Westminster in the back garden tonight. I just want to know the world, and your feelings through your eyes.
 
 
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eleanoreleanorb on September 7th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)
I don't think it is possible to separate the military from politics (not party politics you understand but a more general political sense). To have a standing army, navy and air force is political, to use it in an offensive or a defensive way is a political choice. Agreeing or disagreeing with having the military is a political act - you can disagree with having the military without it having anything to do with contempt for Westminster or these particular wars.

Since we do not have a conscripted military I have no feeling or interest in the people marching. It's a job they chose and that they must see as essential, just as someone might see being a teacher as essential or a stockbroker or a fish farmer. Personally I can't fathom their particular choice.
(Deleted comment)
fiat_knoxfiat_knox on September 7th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC)
The one thought that always strikes me, is that these people are doing a job that I never could. I may not agree with war, but...

You virtually took the words right out of my mouth.
Ayoub™: Rememberanceayoub on September 8th, 2009 10:48 am (UTC)
They're all local to somebody...

They're all heroes.

Well said.