I was reading a list of names yesterday, members of the armed forces who have died whilst serving in Afghanistan. Each one of them leaves behind a lengthy and complex network of friends, family and loved ones who will spend the rest of their lives thinking about them. With each death, the years of history, work, conversation and decency seems to be lost forever without any but the closest people remembering it. All those ideas and thoughts that people spend their lives shaping get chopped in half without ever being explained or answered.
The platitudes from the Commanding Officer and politicians are the official line of closure before moving on to other business. As such, I find it difficult to reconcile Sgt Dave Wilkinson’s life of memories, fun and hope, to five minutes work at Whitehall. Holidays on the beach, Match of The Day and warming his wife’s side of the bed whilst she’s brushing her teeth, all summed up neatly by graduate with a thesaurus.
Also, I find the idea of celebrity men in London suits conferring gratitude and respect on the dead a little difficult to stomach. It’s as if somehow an acknowledgement of heroism demonstrates a humble and thoughtful persona, freeing the salesmen of guilt and deferring the responsibility back to the client. The harder the Army work, the more heroes we’ll have on our hands, which in turn means less space on the front page for greed and incompetence. So many winners and they’re not stupid either.
In a political sense gallantry is too easy to deal with, so much easier to explain than selfishness and celebrity. And nobody answers back too, that’s the best bit.