I'd just like to get something off my chest in a neutral setting. I'm not going to apologise for having an opinion, because it's mine. So here we go... I'm sorry if you don't like it, but really, I'm not sorry at all.
Yesterday on my commute to work, I wasn't feeling very happy anyway. Crammed train carriages with no space to crochet, a man smelling of wee in my face, someone on my foot, etc does not a happy hooker make. Yet when I read the free paper (The Metro), I was even more annoyed.
A welcome home parade for a group of soldiers in Luton. What a nice way to welcome back our boys. How nice for them to see rows of smiling, cheering faces. Even though I don't support the war in Iraq, and actively protested against it in 2004 (the big march on Downing St), I will support our troops. It's not them that decided to go to war, it's them that are told to FIGHT the war.
So, the parade is invaded by a group of muslim guys shouting abuse and waving placards reading "Baby Killers" and "Butchers of Basra"- what a nice thing for the soldiers to see eh? And the thing that made me laugh sardonically more than anything was the guys holding up "British Government Terrorist Government" signs. Most of them were born here. If you don't like life in the UK, then find somewhere else to live. Simple.
Surely the protest would have been better aimed at the government that voted to go to war, i.e at 10 Downing Street, rather than in Luton, a normal town, full of normal people who could no more change the outcome of a government war order than move a mountain.
What made me really sad, was that this parade had twelve empty spaces. Twelve brave men sent home in boxes, not seats. Twelve dinner tables with a place left, hoping against hope that the letter was all a lie; that one day their son/brother/dad/uncle/cousin/husband/fiance would be coming back.
I couldn't do what the soldiers do. I'm not brave enough. And let's face it, you have to be pretty damn brave to face a horde of guys willing to kill themselves to kill you. I'm not saying that every soldier is a hero- afterall, they're doing a job, but those who go above and beyond the call of duty and show significant strength and bravery, those are the heroes. They don't deserve to be treated like that.
Two generations of men in my close and distant family have been soldiers and sailors. Not all of them made it home in one piece. Not all of them made it home period. A distant relative of ours, Private Charles Kimpton Doggett was never even found when he died on October 4th 1917. He died, aged 32, and is remembered on a wall at Tyne Cot cemetary (which will make you cry if you visit- it did me). The walls commemorate those who were never found (MIA), partially found, or only their dogtags found. He has no grave. He was sucked down into the clinging mud, possibly still alive and in agony, and that is where he rests.
This is why protests like this make me so angry. My great-grandad was in WWI; gassed at hill 60, and sent home to convalesce. He recovered, and was sent to Gallipoli. Thankfully he made it back, to live to a ripe old age and die peacefully, but without breathing a word to anyone of what he saw in Ypres or Turkey. My grandad was in WWII, in Palestine- even then the word 'peace' was unknown there. He'll never forget seeing the bodies of officers hanging by the neck in an orange grove; murdered by terrorists, or forget how his friend looked, dying by inches right in front of him, and there was nothing he could do.
One of my school friends is a career soldier, serving out in Afghanistan at the moment I believe, and I dread getting the local paper in case it has something about him coming home prematurely in... I don't even want to think about it.
I'm all for freedom of speech, it's one of the things that makes Britain so great. But this was jsut distasteful. I think the guys behind it should be made to do a month in jail. At least.
What makes me laugh though (and try not to cry) is that the people arrested at the parade were British (Christian, we assume) guys, trying to get at the muslim protesters to do some damage. HAH. It's not politcally correct here to arrest an ethinic minority when they're in the wrong!
Here's a couple of links (one, two, and three) to some news stories if you're interested.
And as for the crochet, I'm makling a Mirasol Miski scarf, and still doing the Spirit scarf.
Sorry for the completely off topic rant, I just HAD to get it out!
The following lovely poems are all WWI poems, written by the men who saw death at the Front and were claimed by him there. I've highlighted a couple of key phrases, just to emphasise my point that soldiers don't choose where to go, they are just chosen by those in charge.
"The thundering line of battle stands,
And in the air Death moans and sings;
But Day shall clasp him with strong hands
And night shall fold him in soft wings"
-Julian Grenfell, 'Into Battle'
"And your bright Promise, withered long and sped,
Is touched, stirs, rises, opens and grows sweet
And blossoms and is you, when you are dead."
-Charles Sorley, 'Two Sonnets'
"I have come to the borders of sleep,
The unfathomable deep
Forest, where all must lose
Their way, however straight
Or winding, soon or late;
They can not choose."
-Edward Thomas, 'Lights Out'