Have you noticed how Remembrance is assuming ever more importance in our lives over the past 5 or 10 years?
It has always been part of my life, my father was in the RAF and then I became an Army Officer in 1992. There was never a year that I did not attend a service or a parade. It does feel that there is a great deal more interest now though. Is it more part of the collective conscious now? We are 2 Gulf wars down and have suffered an appalling loss of life in a short time in Afghanistan. There is now far more publicity for the Armed Forces since they have come out of the shadows imposed by the prolonged deployment in Northern Ireland and the security issues it demanded.
When I was a young officer we had to check our cars for bombs every time we got into them; we never wore uniform in public; we never told anyone we met what we did, we made up stories about our backgrounds. And Remembrance was something for other people. Now it seems, we are VERY interested in it, people are falling over themselves to pay their respects.
I think the fact that the last of our servicemen from the First World War are dead, makes up want to hang on that bit more. A sense of spoken history is almost gone. If we haven't written down or otherwise recorded these people's stories by now then we never will and it's lost forever.
Deployments in war zones can leave mental scars. It is estimated that as many as 10% of servicemen suffer from long term effects of operational tours. It's easy to be empathetic to someone who has lost a limb or an eye but very many injuries are invisible. There are so many interventions that can help with mental trauma and PTSD. We have fantastic treatments like hypnotherapy and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprogramming) that can make a massive difference to people's lives if only they knew how to access them. At this year's Remembrance service I will be specifically thinking of those who need mental help.
One last thought... We know all about the Gulf wars; we respect those servicemen remaining from the two World Wars; the Afghanistan deployment is constantly in the public eye; no one over the age of 15 can be ignorant of the struggle in Northern Ireland. Who has remembered those who suffered in a very grim war in the Falklands?
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