So Veterans Day has passed for another year. Yesterday on November 11 the people of the United States stood still for a moment to remember the fallen and to say “thank you” to veterans who served in the military. In Britain and across Europe similar scenes take place as armistice day is used as an occasion to recognise the sacrifices made by veterans and their families. Veterans probably appreciate the gesture and use the occasion to remember those with whom they served. Most veterans are proud of their service and value the opportunity to remember fallen comrades. That said many veterans now see the annual outpouring of jingoism and the way veterans day is “celebrated” as a grave insult.
Todays Daily Prompt asks for an experience that moved me to tears recently.
On Saturday 16th August 2014 I attended one of the many music festivals that I have attended during the course of this wonderful summer. The festival, Beautiful Days is one of my favourites, it showcases Folk, Punk, Ska, Reggae and Indie bands in the main. At 2pm around 8000 people packed into a ‘big top’ to watch one of my favourite bands, Ferocious Dog. These guys play high octane electric Folk-Punk and there is always a huge amount of energy at their gigs. About 20 minutes into the set the lead singer, Ken Bonsall (pictured above) played a song called ‘the glass’. At the end of the song Ken simply kissed his fingers and gestured towards the heavens with tears in his eyes. He then launched into an instrumental called ‘Lee’s Tune. At that point I burst into tears, emotion overcoming me. Why should I be overcome in this way at a punk rock gig. Well as you have probably guessed these two songs have special meaning.
Lee you see was Ken’s son and fiddle player Dan’s brother. Lee had joined the army at age 18 and had served with his regiment in Afghanistan. Whilst on active service in that country Lee’s best friend was killed in a ‘friendly fire’ incident. Lee was badly affected and suffered from Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). and was eventually discharged from the Army as a result. The Ministry Of Defence and the UK armed forces in general are appallingly bad at supporting our veterans. Unbelievably most veteran support in the UK falls on charities and as you might imagine many veterans are reluctant and too proud to seek support from charities.
Tragically Lee’s depression lead him to end his own life. As you can imagine this had a devastating effect on his family. The song ‘The Glass’ was written by Ken and Dan when they were informed of Lee’s death. Ken’s simple gesture was a little private moment, a simple gesture that said ‘that was for you son, you will never be forgotten’. It was a moment noticed by those who know the story and many like me were moved to tears by it.
I should point out that, as a veteran myself, and as someone who has had more than his fair share of battles with depression I can understand how utterly hopeless you can feel. I also understand how families despair and blame themselves thinking there was surely something they could have done differently to achieve a different outcome. Unfortunately all you can really do is to offer love and support.
Please remember your veterans, support them where and when you can and if you suffer from, or live with someone who suffers from depression please be kind.