veteran at Morrisons
I am guilty of walking awkwardly past the old fellas with their medals and charity boxes, and even part of me thinking things should move on now. It was a time recently when I popped into Morrison’s and saw a collection of these guys collecting money. Whilst I was shopping I felt compelled to say hello on the way out. Partly I felt guilty for ignoring them on the way in, but mostly because having been to Normandy and seeing the beach, I wanted to find out what it was really like on D-Day.
I saw a chap in his late eighties (like the man above) sitting in a wheelchair, complete with blanket, medals and charity box. So I stopped and said hello, asking him “Were you there, and what was it like?” His reply through a well-to-do-army-sort of accent took me by surprise. “Fucking awful!” he said. Immediately my heart warmed to him, and a deep thankfulness for what he did came over me.
He was driving one of the vehicles landing on the beach, and as he did so his vehicle was hit, killing all three of his mates and seriously wounding him. I couldn’t help but feel a deep sorrow for his loss of his three mates, and further thankfulness that we enjoy our freedom in the UK due to the people like him who risked their lives for us.
You know, today there are people all around us like him. People who have worked for us to enjoy the freedoms we now have. It is so easy in our own little worlds to forget these people. It’s easy to disagree and judge the reasons they may have gone to recent wars. Yet the simple, humbling fact remains, these people do their job to serve their country and do so with courage, determination, blood and sweat.
It also made me think about the wonderful people alive today that serve in our armed services, the NHS and other emergency services. Seeing and working with them fills me with pride because it is people like them, the soldiers, the nurses, the firemen and ambulance drivers that are as much a part of our country’s identity as the Union Flag itself. Thank God for these amazing people.