Today, the 11th November is the day when we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice giving their lives for their country.
Being the mother of sons who are 20 and 19 years old I find myself more and more affected by each death in Afghanistan of a young man who could so easily be my son. I am so grateful that neither of my boys chose to join the armed forces, though one seriously considered it. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to lose a child, even when they are grown up. I know the impact loosing my sister in her 30s has had on my parents and our family and that it has changed who we all are and will always be with us in some way. I find myself wondering how it must feel to lose a child who has chosen to fight for his/her country and even more so how it felt to lose a child who had no choice as was the case in the first and second world wars. And how must it feel if you do not agree with the cause they are fighting for. I suppose you have to accept their choices but it must be very hard not to be angry.
However, I realised this week that my thoughts have always been with the mothers and never the wives and partners. This was brought home to me when I watched the first episode of Gareth Malone’s Military Wives. Gareth has used music to help a number of groups of people in difficult circumstances over the years and this time round he is working with a group of women whose partners are on tour in Afghanistan. It was startling, to me, to see how little support these women seem to get and how isolated they are even when they live on barracks. I know my sister, whose husband was in the RAF, made a conscious decision not to leave on barracks and to have a life outside of the force and I suspect this really helped her with a sense of normality when my brother in law was posted in Afghanistan. I feel ashamed that I didn’t fully comprehend the situation she was in. I know she avoided watching the news in case something happened but it wasn’t until I saw the wives and partners on the programme that I realised just how on edge many of them were and appreciate more fully what she must have gone through. My brother in law called her courageous in the way she presented him with a positive attitude and smile whenever they talked over the internet despite being able to hear missiles in the background.
My reason for writing this post today is that I would like us to not just recognise and remember those that have given their lives for their country, which ever country that may be, but to also think about and appreciate the sacrifice their families, particularly their mothers and wives make and to recognise that they need support while their loved ones are overseas and most especially if they have to deal with the horror of losing them