Meanwhile back here in Britain yesterday we did something which we do rather well; there in all their finery were the great and good at St. Paul’s Cathedral to pay tribute to the dead in Iraq; the dead on both sides were remembered this time since the evil Thatcher had no hand in it. During a similar service for the Falklands dead she tried to ban any reference to the Argentine dead; she was faced down by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Ronald Runcie who insisted on prayers for the enemy dead; much to her fury. How ironic and satisfying it was some time later to discover that the elderly cleric who stood up to the rancid old war criminal was also the holder of the Military Medal awarded for gallantry as a tank commander in Normandy in WW 11. These public exhibitions of remembrance turn my stomach; they always manage to look triumphalist. They also push forward into the lime light the wrong people such as politicians, military officers and the usual collection of Royal fools dripping in gold and festooned with undeserved medals.
If we must have these public shows more effort should be made to emphasize the awfulness of war which might concentrate the minds of those who take the decisions to go to war. I would have these occasions led by the wounded instead of hiding them away, every Soldier, Sailor or Airman wounded should be present and should occupy the front rows of the church where no one can miss them. Wheelchairs crutches beds and guide dogs should take prominence; they have earned it, let the extras from the Gilbert and Sullivan opera fight it out for the cheap seats.
I remember the controversy over the Falklands remembrance service which was attended by wounded servicemen but they were positioned in a part of the church where they could not be seen and were not shown on TV; I thought that that was a filthy trick worthy of the dirtiest propagandists anywhere and the ceremony the other day was the same. Because of what happened under Thatcher I watched closely but failed to see a single injured soldier, sailor or airman. Someone must be responsible for the running of these things which suggests that once again a decision was made to hide the wounded if indeed they were there. Would the most sycophantic monarchist argue that Prince Philip doddering around like an expensive Christmas tree is more worthy of prominence than someone who fought and sustained wounds? Does the military brass think that they should be the ones on show rather than those they commanded who have been wounded? It’s a bloody disgrace and it’s also another example of how much respect our society really has for those who make the real sacrifices which is very little.