Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Honouring the heroes
I just watched a report on BBC World news on the repatriation of eight young soldiers, all killed in Afghanistan on the same day. In contrast to our own secretive and exclusionary arrivals at Dover, the arrivals were filmed, in silence, the only sound was a trumpet call and the slow march of the bearers. The families were not filmed. They then had a private service at a private chapel, and all eight hearses set off from the base. They were escorted by police and the route was lined, through the town of Wooten Bassett all the way to Oxford. The town shut down. All the way to Oxford, the route was lined with veterans groups, families, strangers and friends. Flags were dipped as the hearses passed, veterans and current soldiers saluted, children stood with their hands over their hearts and roses were flung to land on the hearses and the road before them.
The entire country paid respect to those young men, to their families, to their Regiments. Respect. No paparazzi dashed forward to take pictures of the widows, no disrespect or protesters were seen. Dignity and respect, sadness and loss were the only emotions I saw on the faces of those standing on the route. As it should be.