"Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you," said the wisest of wise men. "The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon."

('The Alchemist' Paulo Coelho)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

All over within a year?

The poem is not an example of great literature maybe, but more importantly, was obviously written from the heart by a soldier who wanted to express his feelings about the current situation in Afghanistan. Staff Sergeant Andy McFarlane, 47, wrote it while flying home from there with some of his comrades who had not been as lucky as him, having paid with their lives. His poem, entitled Repatriation, tells of an anonymous 'hero' being driven through the town of Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire, where crowds now regularly turn out to pay their respects on these occasions.
You will notice that one verse refers to the conspicuous absence of ministers from the now regular repatriation ceremonies.
This is the full text of the poem:
The leviathan of the sky does land
In England's green and pleasant land.
Its cargo more precious than gold
The body of a hero, bold.
Once the giant's engines stopped
The cargo ramp is gently dropped
Carried by six on shoulders true
The hero is saluted by the crew.
The coffin draped in Union Jack
Is slowly carried out the back.
Out of the dark and into light
Slowly down the ramp and to the right.
The six approach the hearse all black
And place the hero gently in the back.
The six then turn and march away
Their duty has been done this day.
Politicians usually have much to say
No sign of them near here this day.
They hide away and out of danger,
Much easier if the hero is a stranger.
The hearse with its precious load
Moves slowly out on to the road.
The floral tributes line the route
While comrades snap a smart salute.
At the edge of a Wiltshire town
The cortege slows its pace right down.
The streets are packed, many deep,
Some throw flowers, most just weep.
The crowd have come to say farewell,
The church bell rings a low death knell.
Regimental standards are lowered down
As the hero passed through the town.
The cortege stops and silence reigns
The townsfolk feel the family's pain.
The nations' flag lowered to half mast
Our brave hero is home at last.

So unimportant does our soldiers' sacrifice appear to be to our politicians, that we have Gordon Brown choosing not to interrupt his holiday to attend the opening of a centre for troops injured while on active service even though he was only seventeen miles away. What a positive message that must send to them.
As the mother of someone about to be sent out to Afghanistan next month, I'm distinctly unimpressed by the lack of will on the part of the government to ensure that our troops are properly resourced and by the lack of knowledge and intelligence of Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth, who would have us believe that this war could be won within a year and that the troops have everything they need.
"Everything will be fine, lads. It will all be over by Christmas." Does that sound familiar?


Flighty said...

I don't think that we should be there at all.
Every death, and injury, saddens me as I feel that it has served no purpose. xx

jay said...

How terrifying it must be to have someone about to join that conflict. My heart goes out to you. Those repatriation ceremonies must hit really hard..

Our politicians have always led from the rear, but the latest trend to distance themselves from the slightest whiff of blood and guts is disgusting.

Jennyta said...

Flighty, I agree totally.
Jay, elder son is the one who is going - not only that but he has recently applied and trained for bomb detection duties too!

Re said...

I don't think we should be there either. I'm sorry your son has to serve there, I sincerely hope all will be well.

Rosie said...

I really don't know what we are doing there either. I have watched numerous articles on television recently where they have supposedly explained why and still see no reason for it.
I find it so difficult to watch the repatriation ceremonies and I don't have anyone over there. I really feel for you. xx

Daphne said...

Thinking of you, Jenny.


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