Daniel Korski

Honouring the soldiers

Honouring the soldiers
Text settings
Comments

This morning, while most of London rushed to work, a few hundred soldiers stood silently in the scorching sun of the Iraqi desert, as the names of their fallen comrades were read out. All 234 of them; 179 British and 46 allied soldiers. The Reverend Paschal Hanrahan led the prayers and said something which I found profoundly moving. I haven’t been able to find the exact quote, but (from memory) it went something like:

"It is to the solder to whom we owe the right to free trial, not the lawyer; it is the soldier, not the journalist, who guarantees the freedom of speech; and it is the soldier, who serves under the flag and whose coffin is draped in the flag, who gives us the right to protest, who gives even the right to protesters to burn that same flag."

I am tempted to rush towards political judgment. Having served in Iraq, I have my own view of what went wrong. But I remember the feeling I had when I attended the memorial service at Basra Air Station for Rifleman Daniel Lee Coffey who was killed on Tuesday 27 February, 2007. It was a feeling of such profound awe, a sense of such respect for the soldiers, their lives and what they are willing to do for us. Today’s images from Basra should make us remember that.