As far as I can recall I have always observed Remembrance Day in one form or another. Having joined the Beavers at the grand old age of six I went through all the ranks to Ventures. Put it this way, should apocalypse arrive I can skin a rabbit, set up camp in woods, fish, make weapons, start a fire, shoot a rifle and tie a good few knots along the way although a tad rusty…
And yes that’s just from being in the Beavers for two years… Remembrance Day as a child was always a weekend event, polishing shoes and pressing trousers the night before and marching on the Sunday to church. I wasn’t religious but C of E commands the right to be as close to God as I wish thanks to good Old Henry.
Many sneer at the Scouts and their various guises but I can assure you, having two scout leaders that were at the peak of their Royal Marine training, we were the toughest, most disciplined troop, far and above any cadet unit within miles.
Even back in the eighties and nineties I can’t see army cadets having to clean the floor with a toothbrush but we did one terrible evening. This simply a backdrop for all the abseiling, climbing, shooting, archery, canoeing, caving, potholing, camping, bivouacking and Black Mountain hiking that we often got to do each weekend.
Instilled in me throughout those years was a sense of Queen and Country, to serve, to respect my elders and at the same time the opposing factors that I was far from a model student at school and was expelled twice. Leaving school was my main priority. I found most teachers to be wanting and tiresome.
Having read the news this weekend about a teenage rugby player from Kent burning a poppy with an ungrateful message towards Squaddies. A man / transsexual dressed as a pink Devil skateboarding along the Remembrance Day parade in Bristol and reading viewers comments online I’ve come to the conclusion that many have to live through the horrors of war to understand it.
I never went on to join the army, others did. I could never do as I’m told, I even managed to swerve the cleaning of the hall that night with a toothbrush, having cleaned a bit I decided that it was clearly a silly order to follow and apologised for my part in whatever we did wrong that night and got on with some Quarter Masters duties.
Thinking back it’s probably the only time in my life I’ll ever get to disagree with two Royal Marines at the same time and not receive a slap as a pleb. My cousins were in the Army, Falklands, Desert Storm, Grandad and his brothers on the front line in WW2 and Nan and Aunties stationed in the factories all of whom survived well into their 80’s and 90’s.
So come 11th November each year, I recall not only the wars and the fallen, but also my family and those that have passed and those that continue to serve today. The one thing that strikes me is the opinion of these people who do these silly acts and then the resulting claims from onlookers.
Take as a for instance, the debate on Romanians and Bulgarians being allowed freer access to the UK job market and other benefits. Some comments reveal that people died for their country to stop this stuff happening. An incredulous comment if ever one was to be made. Men and women go to war to halt immigration do they?
People of the UK went to war on both occasions because they were ordered to. Because they were informed of their duties and in most part people understood they needed to protect themselves, their country and most importantly their family against the evil ideals of another country’s leader. They didn’t go to war to stop immigrants from traveling across borders. That is what freedom bestows.
And while there is obviously a distinct lack of any respect in the teenager who so drunkenly craved for attention online by burning a poppy and being in a state of undress, I don’t think so many from WW1 and WW2 would agree with the arrest of the young man, although doubtless to say a public dressing down might be deemed appropriate. But to be arrested?
Again regarding the man dressed in pink, arrested for his own protection against an angry crowd perhaps but to be charged? There are laws in the UK that protect against civil disorder and other restrictions to prevent people being the target of abuse and I can also recall in recent time being upset at fanatical muslims being allowed to burn British flags on UK streets so at a glance there is a fine line to misdemeanors of these kind.
Should we shoot all three sets of criminals? Should they be jailed for eighteen months like the Sergent who brought back a pistol awarded to him while in service? Surely if the SAS hero can be jailed, then the teenage rugby player who burned a poppy and the pink devil should be shot at noon tomorrow.
The police can’t be seen to arrest flag burners of a certain race and then not arrest a poppy burner but both incidences need to have measured responses. The UK is seeing the beginning of arrests from complaints online by actions online and if football supporters can be dragged from the streets on lousy charges under section 5a then why shouldn’t a pink devil invading a Remembrance Parade be charged for inciting a riot also?
In all of this and from all of these events, police and all interested parties should take note. Men and Women from the armed services go into war to not only protect our freedoms and civil liberties but those from across the world in each and every corner.
They are ordered, they oblige. They fight to enable people to have free speech and free opinion and yes to allow immigration to occur freely across borders without hate or deference towards race.
50 years ago these so called criminals would have received a slap atop their heads and told to go home. And 100 years ago, rapists and paedophiles would have been strung up in trees and hung in London by the citizens of London town. So of course there remains a need for reasoned policing.
I hope all concerned from the police to onlookers and the oiks that caused offense take a greater look at the wider implications of what two world wars and the ongoing wars provide ourselves and others.
As we too cross borders to find work or go on holiday and understand the real reasons why men and women served and died for all of our countries and our eventual and existing freedoms, however eroded they are becoming. Yes that also means the right to burn a poppy or skateboard down the high street dressed as a pink Devil or see Prince Harry dress as a Nazi in party costume.
As a final note it is also worth remembering the continual disdain governments and hierarchy have had towards the Squillions of service men and women on their return from campaigns. They may all parade on a given day in their suits and as representatives of the public but where are their thoughts when these great men and women return alive and well?
Lest we forget!