Remember The Dead. Don’t Forget the Living

Today is Remembrance Day here in the UK, a day to remember those who have died in war. However, it’s also worth remembering those who didn’t die on the battlefield. More veterans committed suicide after the the Falklands Conflict than died during it. Despite improvements in mental health care in the last 30 years, it was recently reported that in the last two years, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2007, a veteran of the Falklands Conflict read the following poem at a Remembrance Day service in Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands:

Every year on Remembrance Sunday, I sit in the corner of a British Legion bar,
Dressed in blazer, shirt, regimental tie, polished shoes, with my head held high.
But deep in my mind, where nobody goes, I see a wooden cross where the wind of victory blows.
“Three cheers for victory”, I heard the politicians say, but they never asked me about my victory
And if they did, I would have explained it this way:

It isn’t your flags or your emblems of war, or your marching of troops past the palace’s door
It isn’t Mrs Thatcher on the balcony high, reaffirming her pledge to serve or die,
But it’s the look and the pain on a teenager’s face, as he dies for his country in a far off place.
It’s the guns and the shells and the phosphorous grenades, the dead and the wounded, the freshly cut graves,
Or a grieving wife with a fatherless child, whose young tender love will be forever defiled,
Or the alcoholic soldier with a shattered mind, who takes the sunny-side option for some peace to find.
Well, that’s my victory, but no one knows. For it’s deep in my mind where nobody goes.

It brings tears to my eyes whenever I read it.

I recently blogged about the Forgotten Heroes charity single (Amazon, iTunes). Forgotten Heroes help the survivors of war, and they can use all the help they can get. If you don’t want the single, you can donate direct on their website.