Doing my own remembering

It is Remembrance Day.

Many poppies have been visible in many lapels for weeks. There has been television coverage aplenty in advance of The Day. News bulletins have been fronted by be-poppied anchors.

Today there has been news coverage showing many sober-suited, sombre-faced politicians standing near various war memorials.

It’s all shit.

I don’t need a special day to remember those who served and got away with it, or those who served and didn’t.

I don’t need a coloured piece of cardboard in my lapel to show that I care. This sycophantic ‘my expression of grief is better than yours’ is such complete and utter hypocrisy.

What we need, to add real value to those who serve – those who put their lives on the line for a salary that is derisory (did you know that members of the Armed Forces are on duty 24/7? So their salary isn’t for the cosy 40-hour week that most civilians turn in), for accommodation that is all too often substandard to the point that the laws of this country would not allow the government to house asylum seekers in it, but it’s good enough for the people who are expected to deal with the outcomes of political ineptitude…

What we need, as I was saying, to add real value to those who serve is for every single member of parliament to serve a minimum term of four years front line in either a Navy Blue, an Air Force Blue or an Army Green or Black. I use the words ‘front line’ because doing four year at Catterick counting forks doesn’t count, neither does doing four years at RAF Innsworth filling in HR forms.

Only when the politicians are forced to live with the sharp end of their decisions, will the ‘remembering’ become a thing of value – not a media event to be picked up once a year and rapidly discarded for eleven months, starting tomorrow.

I remember the lucky ones several times a week. Trevor and I, we were lucky.

Phil Courier and I, we were lucky (but no photo exists of the two of us in the same place at the same time – which led some on our Squadron to hypothesise that he and I were really the same person!).

And I was lucky. Sadly my colleague Graham Baker (seen below with me) wasn’t. When I zigged, he zagged. I received minor injuries and a load of concussion. He flew back in to Brize in a flag-drapped coffin with a blue beret on top.

I really don’t need a day to remember these three – or any of the other people I served with.


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13 Responses to Doing my own remembering

  1. Harry says:

    ‘Bepoppied’ – What a brilliant word!

  2. Masher says:

    I just wrote a great big comment explaining how I think you are wrong on this, but I couldn’t find the right words to explain myself properly. So, as you say, perhaps we’ll just beg to differ on this one.

  3. Brennig says:

    What are we agreeing to disagree on? That MPs need to spend time on the front line? 🙂

  4. froggywoogie says:

    VERY good post Bren! I couldn’t agree more.

  5. Vicola says:

    For those of you who served it’s different I think. In our house we do Rememberance day to remember Jack, my grandma’s first husband who was shot down and killed along with his crew over Holland, my grandfather who was captured during the fall of Singapore and spent the duration of the war in a Japanese prisoner of war camp and also the countless residents of the nursing home that my parents own who have told me their stories over the years. Whether they were lucky is debatable, Harold Malone was torpedoed and then shot in the water with his mates by the crew of a U boat. He came back alive but was institutionalised in 1946 and never came out. Bill was one of hte first troops into Belsen and he went to war one man and came back another. Those of us who haven’t every served or lost a close serving relative can’t imagine what it’s like to live with the consequences of war every day and I think Rememberance Day is more for people like us. I definately agree that MPs should serve a term though, no one who hasn’t experienced it shoudl be making decisions that affect the lives of serving soldiers. What also needs looking at in a really big way is the treatment that injured soldiers receive when they return and the level of compensation/ assistence they are entitled to because that is nothign short of fucking criminal.

  6. Bulldog says:

    You remember out of experience.

    We remember out of gratitude. . .

  7. Brennig says:

    Bulldog; eloquently said and you’ve put me in my place. Thank you.

    Vicola; aye.

  8. Walter Mitty says:

    Hi Brennig

    So where did you serve as a pilot?

  9. Brennig, says:

    Hi Walter and welcome. I didn’t serve as aircrew. When I said I zigged and he zagged we were both on the ground trying to dodge incoming mortar fire.

    I was stationed at RAF Brüggen (No. 4 Wing, Second Allied Tactical Air Force, NATO Command). While I was stationed there there I went on many detachments with No. 14 Sqn and as well as visiting pleasurable places like the USA and Sardinia we had two less pleasurable postings under the UN’s ‘peace-keeping’ auspices.

  10. Amy says:

    Bulldog – you were saying what I was thinking.

  11. Amanda says:

    ;o( *Hugs*
    I have my fathers RAF Uniform from the war. I must learn how to keep it safe and protected from Moths, his cap is looking a little worse for wear ;o(
    Why are we still out there fighting for other people ?? ;o(

  12. Harry says:

    There is nothing nobler than to fight for others – as long as the cause is just.

    In WW1 we entered ostensibly on behalf of Belgium. In WW2 we entered in defence of Polish neutrality.

    Of course in truth, in all the above instances we also had our own iterests at heart. In the case of both world wars we considered German continental hegemony to be a direct threat to the United Kingdom. In the case of Afghanistan we are tackling an enemy with direct links to the 9/11 and 7/ll atrocities. In the case of Iraq however, Blair fucked up! It’s as simple as that.