I served in the Royal Signals as an Army Apprentice from 1975 to 1977 and then for 12 years as a young adult before leaving the forces in December 1988. At no time was I called to serve or fight in a war zone. The only conflicts to occur during my time in the army were the prolonged Northern Ireland troubles and the very short and bloody Falklands War. I didn’t serve in either theater.
Now I mention all of this because I’m in total awe of those who served in real war-time situations with such bravery and distinction. As far as I’m concerned I’m not worthy to clean the boots of any member of HM Forces who served in a war time hot zone. And, as for those amazing young men and women who have served in Northern Ireland, The Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan… what can I say? I’m uncertain as to how well I would have performed in such pressure-cooker situations. If I had to bet “Hero” or “Blithering Coward”…in all honesty I think it would have been the latter. I’m not at all convinced I’d willingly be taking the bullet or the shrapnel to save a comrade. I’d have been the deepest one in the bunker if I’m being honest.
And what about World Wars 1 and 2? Such horror vested on so many millions for so many years and yet, here we all are, still speaking English because our finest generations wouldn’t give up. Those few moron football fans who disrupt the 2 minutes silence every year before kick off might reflect that at least they have the right to do so thanks to those who fought, were wounded, or died in these terrible wars.
I’ve admitted that at best I’ve no idea how well (or badly) I’d have performed in a war-zone. This makes Remembrance Sunday all the more significant for me. Those who did serve, whether unscathed, wounded or killed in action, did serve and I will never be able to doubt their courage and sacrifice in the same way I doubt whether I’d have been any use under those awful circumstances. I’m truly Not Worthy.
Remembrance Sunday isn’t about skewering bad politics or policy. It’s not about the rights and wrongs of war. It’s simply about thinking about and not forgetting those who served, suffered and died in conflict. But, one day a year, just two minutes silence? A few quid for a poppy? A mumbled “Never Forget?” It almost doesn’t seem enough but it’s the least we can do.