Monday, 12 November 2012

The Burden of Rememberance ...

Phew, another year and another 'Rememberance' month negotiated. Not negotiated as well as I had hoped but I am still here. My problem is not the 'remembering' part - that has a daily basis - but not letting it get to me. For most of the year this is not hard to do but as soon as the 'Poppy collecting' starts then the media of all shapes becomes engrossed in the whole process, usually focussing on the First War which is now virtually historical in its context. People, like me, in their late 50's may well have had Granddad's who saw action between 1914 and 18 who had their medals stashed away in a shoe box, as a means of hiding their experiences away. It was only after their death you began to get the slightest idea of what they had done.

For them, and an extent my own father's generation from the Great War 'part two' (as he called it), there was just the day, there was no four week media fest of misrepresentation and down right ignorance to drag the month down and rub at psychological wounds. There was no politicisation of the 'Poppy' its fundamental purpose was to raise money for the Haig Fund in Scotland and Royal British Legion in England and Wales. The funding was then used to help servicemen, their families, veterans and their dependents in time of need.

For me, Rememberance Day is linked to mental breakdowns and a descent into the abyss of self harm and suicide. As the media cranks up its pathos and stories of heroics my psyche descends into recrimination, guilt and self hate - I doubt I am alone amongst those who have seen active service feeling like this. Some one out of every three who have seen 'active service' or its aftermath will have to live with the impact of Combat Stress to a greater or lesser extent. I have stood on the edge of plunging into that abyss on two occasions - both directly as the outcome of the lead up to Rememberance Day, the most recent in November 2009.

This year, as the usual misinformed rubbish about the UK Military, past and present, was bandied about, the usual sense of anger and frustration slowly came to the boil with in me. It did not matter whether it was the sanctimonious hypocrisy of a Cameron or the ill informed bleating of peacenicks the impact is the same - people please shut up because you do not know what you are talking about, you have not been there, folk who have, have and fundamentally they would prefer not to talk about it in public where their voice can be twisted to suit which ever public spin, pro or anti war, is required. Take it from me -  I doubt there is any one in the military who has seen active service would wish to be there again. Bullets only fly when politicians screw up, the politicians you all elect by default with either a cross or an abstention at the ballot.

As long as the UK electorate continues to go along with a party political system in which a minority government (in terms of vote share) is in fact a dictatorship in action, which can ignore the wishes of the House of Commons, this is not going to change.

You want to put an end to UK Military Adventures? 

First you will have to put an end to the Westminster system of Government but please stop using the deaths, wounds and disablements of the UK Military to hide behind, as represented by the Poppy Collection and the 11th of November, in your own cowardice - they were just doing the job your elected representatives told them to do on your behalf whether you are a war monger or a peacenick.

Until then "j' accuse" all sides of veteran's abuse for political ends.

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