This proved to be quite the difficult missive to write, but one felt the need to put ephemeral pen to electronical paper after witnessing the ongoing media-witter and emotionally-charged tub-thumping that has occurred.
My grandfather fought for his country, this country, in what was always for him the Great War, not because we were under imminent threat of planned invasion – that would come 35 years later, but because his country, and his King, asked it of him and he would not turn aside from his Duty as a New Zealander; somewhat of an unfashionable concept, but no less important today.
He was deeply proud to have served, he rarely spoke about it to his family of blood, only to his family of arms, and, like almost every old serviceman you will meet, was an avid promoter of vigilant peace, and a serious distruster of politicians and activists alike.
What rampant pacifists forget, or perhaps choose to ignore as it might prove embarrassing to their morals, is that the only reason they have the freedom to speak out against deploying our service people across the globe is that those very service people exist in the first place.
And yet strangely, when the malodorous biological by-product hits the rapidly rotating air redistribution device, said folk are often the first to demand the presence of someone, shall we call them service people perhaps, to stand guard over our shores, and preferably between themselves and harm.
The problem being that, if we genuinely believe that the ineffective behemoth that is the United Nations can actually work to reduce strife on this planet, then needs must that we recognise our sphere of responsibility extends rather further afield than just these clouded isles that we call home.
Much rubbish is spoken about “punching above our weight” and the like, usually by politicians who are never going to hear a shot fired in anger, but the reality is, Kiwis seem to make rather good service people. And they take great pride in doing their jobs well, with or without effective support at home.
We are a small nation, and every time one of ours dies doing their Duty, we feel it like a personal loss, even if they are not personally known to us. However, they all volunteer to serve, and despite limited numbers being sent, whenever a new rotation arises there are always more volunteers than places. They go, knowing the risks involved. They are not supermen, they are, alas, neither bullet-nor bomb-proof, but they go anyway, because they want to make a difference, and because it is their Duty to serve at the will of the people, as represented by the government of the day. And sometimes they do not come home.
It is not for the arm-chair warriors, the amateur political analysts, or the emotionally distrait to demand they stop doing their jobs. That is not only unacceptable, it is selfish, short sighted and horribly disrespectful. Kipling’s poem “Tommy Atkins” sums it up rather too well: nobody wants to know the serviceperson when all is fairly calm & quiet, but by God they all show respect when there’s a War on.
Thanks granddad; for the sacrifice, the example, and the dedication to working in your community to “make up for it.”
Major Blunder, Officer Commanding, Fifth Waikato Dragoons Regiment, Northern Command, Alf’s Imperial Army. Humour in Uniform.