The Call of Duty

Saturday morning’s  do not begin with any fixed routine. Not in my house. Not in my head at least. The day drifts towards action. Recently we have acquired a second TV which is placed in the bedroom. It is not often used as we like to  read or chat in there but somehow or other, as I was making the morning tea, it was switched on and my partner found a very interesting programme on one of those forgotten or hidden channels. The ones  you never discover during normal watching hours but are found by  that nervous absent-minded trawling which takes place if you watch at odd times of the day.

It concerned the accounts of British Soldiers engaged in Bosnia or Afghanistan. They could have been American Soldiers or any soldiers engaged in some UN style operation: that is not really the point. It was just accounts of  actions they performed resulting in the receipt of medals. If the recipient was in the clip he told his story with all the drama of someone sent to the supermarket who could only buy  green olives  because they didn’t have black. There was a total absence of pride in their account. They acted as they did, they all said, through training and because they had no choice: to help a friend, not to inflame a situation further etc.

I have met a few old soldiers and I’ve never heard them boast about their experience under fire. In fact to hear them speak about it at all is very rare, but to hear of their conduct and courage in these situations was to listen to all that is best in man. Their selflessness, modesty  courage and caution in the glare of the limelight would all fare badly in a career in politics or business. These are people I have spent some time with mucking about or drinking beers and many of them are capable of having great fun,  and teasing those around them in a thoroughly amusing decent and open way. But put them in a situation were they have to be relied on and they stand as rocks beside you: their loyalty is beyond question.

I am a man who hates all game playing, posturing and self-importance so these men stand out as beacons of hope and selfless decency in a complex universe . Why we got involved in this war or that is often open to question. I have always thought the fight against Hitler was the one conflict where you could truly say it was the fight of good against evil. In many other battles the moral arguments are harder to devine but in these “peacekeeping” situations were ordinary men from the valleys or towns of our lands are thrust into a foreign conflict; and try to hold things together their unassuming courage and decency is truely breathtaking.

Baffled as I often am in the sight of some slithering courtier oiling himself up the food chain or some mindless airhead parading themselves around before they remembered to get dressed and driving off in a Bentley for their pains, to be reminded that such people as these soldiers exist is a refreshing and life affirming moment. They really are among the best of who we are


About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, creative writing, Life, life2, soldiers and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The Call of Duty

  1. Big Al says:

    I too, am in complete awe at how these men so consistently perform acts so brave in scope. They truly do live by the credo “No Greater Love hath a man, that he would lay down his own life for his brother!”

    A nice tribute to these silent heroes.


  2. Shonnie says:

    Thank you for the beautiful words for our men in uniform. I agree with Al, no greater love … these men lay down their lives for all of our lives to be lived as we know them. They are greatly appreciated, as are you. 😀


  3. Shonnie says:

    Shared it on FB … I have a lot of patriotic friends. 😀


  4. Caroline says:

    Brilliantly put. Thank you CD


  5. Well done, once again. Where would we be without these brave souls who put others over themselves? They don’t all have uniforms, though…


  6. My son served in Iraq for one year with the British army, he said he enjoy his time there doing patrols etc, and wanted to go back, but never could.
    But as you said, he has yet to speak about it and i know enough not to ask him


  7. backonmyown says:

    Great tribute to our modest heroes. Thanks.


  8. The T says:

    When i was much younger, i thought to myself how i would have gone into a jungle and taught the other side a lesson they wouldn’t forget. And then i went paintballing and within 4 seconds of the game starting, splat….right across the head….if I would have gone to war, I now know that i would have been an early casualty. Bravado right out the window… my mortality is always in focus….

    Wonderful post!



  9. Many of my family members are in the armed forces here, including my own father. Their silent acts of bravery occur everyday, and to them, most wouldn’t be able to understand if they explained everything that happens. I’m proud of them and I thank them everyday


  10. –Ducky,
    you continually have something beautiful to say.
    Yes, the unsung heros….Most are never recognized x


  11. ElizOF says:

    They are the best,… and deserve better treatment when they come home and when they need to support their families… that remains difficult. TY!


  12. Barbara says:

    Well put Peter. I am always amazed at how humble these young men and women are. They define the term hero and ,as Elizabeth said, they deserve better when they come home.


  13. A Beautiful Tribute and they do deserve better when they return home.


  14. nelle says:

    I cannot imagine what conditions are like under fire. I know those in my family who served in the second war rarely talked, other than to hint at what they experienced. I’ve heard it mentioned ‘we weren’t saints’ not something they care to elaborate on; I knew my godfather got smooched on both cheeks by de Gaulle and got some fancy medal to accompany the besmooching, but he didn’t want to talk about the circumstances.

    They will share the periphery… another would talk about snakes in Vietnam, the silly, the surreal even, but not when the bullets or shells flew.

    I know a woman who wrote for an Irish paper; she spent 19 months in the field in Vietnam, which is to really say the swamps and jungles of the country. This was an extraordinary endeavour for a woman in those days, but she did it. I’ve encouraged her to write her memoirs; sadly, she is unwell with a chronic illness. She later bore witness to some of the events involving Richard Nixon. That… she is more inclined to talk on.

    I’ve had another tell me what it was like in Vietnam. It wasn’t those against whom they fought most feared, it was night. You would sack out, and wake to find someone gone in the morning, dragged off by a tiger. He could not sleep, and I mean this in terms of now, not just then, more than a few hours at a time, so intense was that experience.


  15. Great post on men in uniform, our dedicated soldiers. Today the news talked about two air men who died who were from IL. They crashed in CA somewhere. I pray for the families as this will be such a tragedy. It makes me grateful for blogs like this one, who honor our fellow men and women in the service.


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