Friday, 11 November 2011


Because it's not just about a vague sense of gratitude that we are free to live in this benign, tolerant, civilised society. It's about real people who went through, and who are going through worse things than we can imagine, or would really like to think about, so that "home" can remain just that.

So here you can read about one of my dear one's family whose heroism was recognised when he was killed in 1918. Gordon Muriel Flowerdew, whose ancestors pictures hang in our house and whose postcard home, where he talks about the impossibility of imagining its peacefulness, surrounded as he was by the awful reality of war, sits in a drawer here somewhere,
And here is my grandfather, who was twice badly injured, in 1915 at Gallipoli and then again in 1917. I never knew this until long after he'd died. To me he was a gruff old man who tweaked my ear, called me Fidget and had an unaccountable taste for opera.

Bravery isn't necessarily something that some breed of special people have, people marked by some kind of otherness that renders them impervious to fear and allows them to be heroes in some effortless Hollywood way. It's how everyday people who are faced with something fearful, dangerous, desperate, far beyond their "normal" experience, respond to that challenge. That, to my mind, makes them more than special.

The generation who went through the two big wars of the last century are gradually leaving us, many are gone already . Yet how many old, tired, shabby men or women might we have passed in the street, utterly unaware that once, they too may have been called to act beyond the normal range of life, in defence of all they, and we hold dear. A new generation are still losing limbs, lives and,  in some cases, all possibility of peace of mind in the face of war. They too may pass you, unnoticed, in the street.

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