Voices of the Silent

Like many, if not all combat veterans, I have images and memories seared into my mind. Images and memories which are as vivid now, as the day they happened.

I remember the very first time my troop was engaged in a fire fight with the enemy, and the overwhelming fear and excitement of combat. I remember time standing still, and being gripped with terror after walking into an ambush – helpless at the hands of an invisible enemy. I remember clearing through enemy positions, only to find them in pieces; unrecognizable chunks of meat, and in all honesty I remember feeling nothing.

I remember casting my eyes upon my friend, laid on his back and staring at the stars with a bizarre expression of vacant agony on his face - and the numbness I felt when I realized he had bled out and died. I remember seconds turning to years as another friend gripped my wrist, and I his, as my team and I desperately tried to save his life - and the feeling of total shame I felt after realizing that my best just wasn’t enough.

Most of all I remember the silence; the air of utter despair after explaining to their loved ones - their mothers, the circumstances that would result in their boys never coming home.

I also remember coming home, and the feelings of joy and relief as I crossed the Channel, finally above British soil again. Those feelings, like all those associated with combat, are indescribable. It isn’t so much a case of being proud to be British. It’s that I am thankful to be British - and truly thankful of the privileges of life in Britain.

Despite wishing that I had never had to be a part of the events discussed above, I am glad that I was, and thankful for the perspective they have given me. I know our country isn’t perfect - no country is. But for the most part, all of the injustice we face in Britain, all of the prejudice we face in Britain, all of the hardship we face in Britain pales in comparison to what other countries are now facing.

Only a fool would not be thankful for the privileges of life in Britain.

Not all generations however, have had the luxury of such privileged times…