Thursday, 5 November 2009

At the going down of the sun

These words are not my words, but the emotion was mine on reading this, so I make no apology for putting it up here. This was a circular I got today, but it seemed more appropriate to put it up here, than send it round.
It is Remembrance Sunday in the UK this Sunday. Although increasingly we also stop at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month for a minutes silence, wherever we are.
But although this is about British troops, I think you could change the nationality to any country that is serving a war anywhere in the world. These lads are all someone's son. I wear my poppy with pride to honour the fallen and the injured and the scared by any conflict. I think the words.... At the going down of the sun... we will remember them, is ever more vital.
Particularly for those like me who know that our 18 yr old sons want to do just this.

The average British soldier is 19 years old…..he is a short haired, well built lad who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears and just old enough to buy a round of drinks but old enough to die for his country – and for you. He’s not particularly keen on hard work but he’d rather be grafting in Afghanistan than unemployed in the UK . He recently left comprehensive school where he was probably an average student, played some form of sport, drove a ten year old rust bucket, and knew a girl that either broke up with him when he left, or swore to be waiting when he returns home. He moves easily to rock and roll or hip-hop or to the rattle of a 7.62mm machine gun.

He is about a stone lighter than when he left home because he is working or fighting from dawn to dusk and well beyond. He has trouble spelling, so letter writing is a pain for him, but he can strip a rifle in 25 seconds and reassemble it in the dark. He can recite every detail of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either effectively if he has to. He digs trenches and latrines without the aid of machines and can apply first aid like a professional paramedic. He can march until he is told to stop, or stay dead still until he is told to move.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation but he is not without a rebellious spirit or a sense of personal dignity. He is confidently self-sufficient. He has two sets of uniform with him: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his water bottle full and his feet dry. He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never forgets to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes and fix his own hurts. If you are thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food is your food. He'll even share his life-saving ammunition with you in the heat of a firefight if you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons and regards his weapon as an extension of his own hands. He can save your life or he can take it, because that is his job - it's what a soldier does. He often works twice as long and hard as a civilian, draw half the pay and have nowhere to spend it, and can still find black ironic humour in it all. There's an old saying in the British Army: 'If you can't take a joke, you shouldn't have joined!'

He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime. He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and he is unashamed to show it or admit it. He feels every bugle note of the 'Last Post' or 'Sunset' vibrate through his body while standing rigidly to attention. He's not afraid to 'Bollock' anyone who shows disrespect when the Regimental Colours are on display or the National Anthem is played; yet in an odd twist, he would defend anyone's right to be an individual. Just as with generations of young people before him, he is paying the price for our freedom. Clean shaven and baby faced he may be, but be prepared to defend yourself if you treat him like a kid.
He is the latest in a long thin line of British Fighting Men that have kept this country free for hundreds of years. He asks for nothing from us except our respect, friendship and understanding. We may not like what he does, but sometimes he doesn't like it either - he just has it to do.. Remember him always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.

And now we even have brave young women putting themselves in harm's way, doing their part in this tradition of going to war when our nation's politicians call on us to do so.

When you read this, please stop for a moment and if you are so inclined, feel free to say a prayer for your troops in the trouble spots of the world.


Val said...

amen x

Lori ann said...

I will Mandy. Oh bless the hearts of all.
xxx lori

Merry ME said...

Tears and prayers for the brave lads and lasses, not to mention their families.

Feeling grateful for their lives and service. Feeling desperated for a world at peace.

P.S. Have I mentioned I love your new header picture? If not, I do!

lakeviewer said...

Bless them and their parents. They are in our prayers. Thanks for bringing them up.

Linda - Gold Coast said...

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

God Bless you all and your families♥

Sorrow said...

A moment of silence,
a moment to wish with all my heart for peace.
giving me wet eyes again today Byrd..
Love ya

Sage said...

My nephew is currently serving out in afghanistan, my heart is in my mouth when I hear the news of yet another soldier dying. All of them will be in my thoughts this year and every year.

karen said...

Thanks Mandy, they should never be forgotten...

Minnie said...

Absolutely right, Mandy - we must always honour them. We owe them that at the very least, however we feel about the conflicts they're engaged in. They & their families are in our prayers in churches here, too, where Armistice Day is also marked by ceremonies of remembrance.

Mel said...

*sending prayers and love*

(((((( the byrdie ))))))

tattytiara said...

Definitely looking forward to the day that the good men and women worldwide who defend their nations are no longer sent out to fight one another.

Pam said...

That is a stunning piece of writing.Get's to the core of these young people and what it is to serve one's country. Thank you for sharing that Mandy. It is very humbling to read.