Cynic that I am I was sent pondering this afternoon about our 'Hero's,' or at least our use of the term, for our soldier boys. There are myriad US websites, blogs, and what have you, all dedicated to their 'Hero' soldiers, 'Fighting the good fight.' Whether they, or indeed the men fighting, actually understand why they were sent to Iraq to search for a man situated deep in the Pakistan hills is doubtful. However the desire to support the loved one in a dangerous situation is to be lauded.
I am a little bit concerned we are falling into this trap also in the UK. A short while ago the media was full of politicians and generals informing us that we need to 'support the troops.' What they really meant was we need to 'support the war,' but this did not fool many. For why? Well there was no animosity towards the 'troops,' in any way shape or form. Even the Guardian and other left leading papers, mags and blogs, did not attack the troops. In fact they gave the safety of the troops as one reason to bring them home from an unnecessary conflict. The 'Hero's' were not being attacked, the war was!
We however are in danger of adopting the schmaltzy Yank manner of dealing with this. Soldiers, indeed policemen who die when washed away in storms, are not 'Hero's' in a slushy sense. They are, brave, dedicated, and never rewarded adequately certainly, but not comic book 'hero's,' and ought not to be used in this fashion. This attitude feeds the platitudes of politicians and Hack newsmen, along with some of the relatives, but as a nation we do not respond so well to the schmaltz.
Anyway, thinking of the conversation with a sergeant in 3 Para where we mentioned this poem which sums up much of the truth about folks approach to soldiers. It says it all as human nature never changes!
I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!