29 January 2008

Service, and gratitude

The Government might not know what it means to serve, except that is, to self-serve, but apparently some of the good people of Great Britain do.
This picture is from the BBC web-site and shows a homecoming parade for soldiers just returned from sharp-end operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We know that the treatment of our military here in the UK is an utter disgrace - but then it was always so. Not without good reason do I reference Kipling in my strap-line at the top of this page and it's worth reading what he had to say from the perspective of the soldier, "Tommy Atkins".
It's not so different for police in terms of the total absence of any gratitude from Parliament, and not only soldiers and police who are treated contemptuously by our so-called leaders (the average expenses and bonuses of each one of our politicians would fund 4 extra police officers per year, 6 paramedics or 10 private or equivalent ranked soldiers, not even including the MPs' fat-cat salaries, subsidised dining [don't see many skinny politicians, do you?] company directorships, TV appearances and feathered-nest retirement deals). So it's clear who they think are most important, and it certainly isn't the little guys and gals putting their lives on the line for their country! At least nobody's tried to shoot me recently, not for a good while anyway, and I have the greatest respect for what our military in all of the arms, do for us, because I really don't know how they do it.
The tree-hugging, woolly-jumpered, bed-wetting, hippy soap-dodgers might not like the war; some clean, principled people with actual jobs don't like it either. But we all live in a country whose freedoms were won by people like those marching through Winchester to the cheering crowds. I'm pretty uncomfortable with the war, as it's been subverted by business interests of the Bush tribe and their cronies, but the people out there are fighting on behalf of our country, doing what I lack the courage to do, by and large honourably.
I see youths out pissing around on the housing estates I patrol every day, in suspended childhood, jobless (unless you count running for the local dealers) and expecting everyone to owe them a living, giving nothing, hands outstretched for welfare and what everyone else can do for them, always expecting extrinsic solutions to their pathetic problems. Then I see youths of the same age, but who are men, and women, growing up probably quicker than they ought to, but with pride, courage and honour.
I love the film, A Few Good Men and watching the fall of the tragic (in the classical sense) hero of Colonel Jessep. However flawed a character he is, and however much he deserves his comeuppance at the end, this character says some things that unnerve me, and here is one:
"...we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. [...] And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.
You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honour, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it.
I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post"
So when you're thinking about slagging off our soldiers, air force and naval personnel and whining about how Saddam just needed a big hug, how the war was all about oil (then drive somewhere using that oil), do remember that talk is cheap, but putting yourself on the line for others actually takes something intrinsic and strong.
And then just say thank-you, and go on your way.
Cheers boys and girls, men and women - I'll buy you a beer any day.


Blogger Mousie said...

Beautifully put.

Thankyou for expressing that which I've always thought, much better than I ever could.

30 January, 2008 23:23  
Blogger Mousie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

30 January, 2008 23:42  
Blogger totallyun-pc said...

Strong words spoken softly.... ooops nope, got that wrong. Strong words, strong feelings. Nice one!

31 January, 2008 19:52  
Blogger Boy said...

Very good post. In the end of the day, whether you agree with the concept of war or not, you have to give praise to soldiers. I know I couldn't do it.

31 January, 2008 21:30  
Blogger Dinoplod said...

Yes Yes, well put ABGC

03 February, 2008 18:12  
Anonymous British Patriot said...

Worth a watch but Put the Kettle on.Please forward the link.

05 February, 2008 17:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an ex serviceman who spent time in Borneo, Aden and Northenr Ireland before joing the Police I thank you for your comments. It seems it has always been so that unless military action was needed, no one gave a stuff about the troops. The only difference with this government is that they don't give a stuff during the need for military action, however misguided it was. Now retired, I was in my local the other day when a couple of tanned young men with short haircuts came in. They were dressed casually but smart and were very quiet and self-effacing. One of them went up the the bar to order drinks and when he tried to pay the barman said, "Sorry, son. Your money's no good in here." Not really understanding, the young lad tried to pay and ws told to put his money back in his pocket as the drinks have already been taken care of. Still bewildered he took his drinks back to his table and the barman started clapping. This was taken up by others and soon every person in that bar was stood up applauding these brave young men. For some reason, even though I was indoors, I found I had something in my eye.
Thanks agin for your comments.

09 February, 2008 21:43  
Anonymous Inspector Gadget said...

As a former soldier I try to filter some of the old standards down to the youngsters on Response (without being a jar head)and most of them love it. Policing is Crown Service, let's not forget it! Good post

16 February, 2008 00:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your kind words. You don't need to buy any of us a beer (although most wouldn't refuse). Your thanks are more than enough.

28 February, 2008 13:47  
Anonymous AnneDroid said...

Powerful post. I like that bit in A Few Good Men too.

As a big old coward (not a copper or a soldier) I am SOOOOO grateful to all you brave men and women who face threats on my behalf and then get abuse for it from the papers.

20 March, 2008 19:49  
Anonymous Larry said...

"But we all live in a country whose freedoms were won by people like those marching through Winchester to the cheering crowds."

Agreed. Defending our country against a would-be invader is A Good Thing. But then you say...

"I'm pretty uncomfortable with the war, as it's been subverted by business interests of the Bush tribe and their cronies, but the people out there are fighting on behalf of our country"

Hang on, *how* has it been 'subverted'? That was their idea all along. And even if you don't believe that, you do admit that the battle *now* is basically being fought to make some rich oil companies and their shareholders a bit richer, so how do you square that with stating that the British army is fighting "on behalf of our country"? I must have overlooked the references to Exxon, Standard Oil or Haliburton in my passport for all these years.

I must also have missed the part where Saddam was ever a threat to our "freedoms", given that it's been shown time and time again that the 'intelligence' used to justify the war was lies and half-truths. How many billions have Blair / Brown wasted on it since then?

So tell me again why I should be 'proud' of our armed forces in Iraq? I know it's not the squaddies' fault, they don't choose their posting. What I mean is, why should I express knee-jerk patriotism just because a British soldier happens to be shooting someone, somewhere?

01 April, 2008 00:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pity the 'scrotes' dont read these kind of blogs!! they wouldn't know the meaning of honour, loyalty, commradeship or service

29 April, 2008 23:53  
Anonymous Tony F said...

As an ex serviceman, I appreciate your comments very much. The thing that really worry me is the way that the Thieves of Westminster line their own pockets at the expense of acting front line troops. Safety is eroded by the lack of personnel who are exhausted from having to do too much with so few, and getting little support from anyone.

30 April, 2008 21:08  
Blogger Bitseach said...

Tony f,
True, not too many politicians look like they've ever missed a meal. Few enough have done any military service (any at all on the Labour or LibDem sides?). Even if you don't support military action for your country/its people, do any of our great MPs ever roll their sleeves up, get their hands dirty in any meaningful voluntary work? I dont' count fundraising dinners - I mean washing the feet of the disciples. I'd say precious few: what free time they have seems to be spent doing ghost posts in companies that are looking to poach their influence at the time and once they retire.

And where do our armed service personnel end up? Homeless or in stinking ill-equipped public wards getting abused by arseholes. It's a national disgrace.

10 May, 2008 14:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


06 September, 2008 07:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ex Soldier Ex Police Officer now lazily retired in a quieter place (not UK) have to say whilst I will always support our troops. I do not subscribe to the notion that they are at the moment, fighting for our country, so in that respect have to agree with Larry


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