I was disgusted to read about an injured British soldier being turned away from the Metro Hotel in Woking today. Regardless of the background and reasons for the current deployment of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq I fully believe that our troops deserve our full support and respect. The vast majority of us will thankfully never have to experience the horrors of war first-hand.
Maybe this story strikes a little too close to home. In the interests of full disclosure, as of the time of writing, my brother is has a month left stationed in Afghanistan before he comes home to his wife and newly born daughter. He is serving with II Para.
For some degree of gravitas I’ve included a related chain email sent to me by my sister-in-law during a particularly bad period for the British Army and the Parachute Regiments especially.
You talk trash about your ‘buddies’ that aren’t with you.
He knows he may not see some of his buddies again.
You walk down the beach, staring at all the pretty girls.
He patrols the streets, searching for insurgents and terrorists.
You complain about how hot it is.
He wears his heavy gear, not daring to take off his helmet to wipe his brow.
You go out to lunch, and complain because the restaurant got your order wrong.
He doesn’t get to eat today.
Your cleaner makes your bed and washes your clothes.
He wears the same things for weeks, but makes sure his weapons are clean.
You go to the mall and get your hair redone.
He doesn’t have time to brush his teeth today.
You’re angry because your class ran 5 minutes over.
He’s told he will be held over an extra 2 months.
You call your girlfriend and set a date for tonight.
He waits for the mail to see if there is a letter from home.
You hug and kiss your girlfriend, like you do everyday.
He holds his letter close and smells his love’s perfume.
You roll your eyes as a baby cries.
He gets a letter with pictures of his new child, and wonders if they’ll ever meet.
You criticize your government, and say that war never solves anything.
He sees the innocent tortured and killed by their own people and remembers why he is fighting.
You hear the jokes about the war, and make fun of men like him.
He hears the gunfire, bombs and screams of the wounded.
You see only what the media wants you to see.
He sees the broken bodies lying around him.
You are asked to go to the store by your parents. You don’t.
He does exactly what he is told even if it puts his life in danger.
You stay at home and watch TV.
He takes whatever time he is given to call, write home, sleep, and eat.
You crawl into your soft bed, with down pillows, and get comfortable.
He tries to sleep but gets woken by mortars and helicopters all night long.