Heroes coming home
Rifleman William Aldridge, 2 RIFLES
Image: Ministry of Defence
The flag-draped casket of every soldier who dies in Afghanistan is met by the townspeople of Wootton Bassett, near Royal Air Force Lyneham.
The Wall Street Journal reported today -
On Tuesday, an estimated 7,000 people gathered in the sun on the town's High Street to pay their respects to the bodies of eight soldiers who were killed in one 24-hour period late last week. At 4:36 p.m. a solitary church bell tolled, the road was closed off, and an undertaker stepped out of a hearse to lead the procession. As the eight bodies passed, relatives and friends were held in tight embraces, tears fell, and a round of applause followed the coffins down the road.
Britain has 9,000 military personnel in Afghanistan, where terrorist threats to Britain are said to originate.
We have written about the government's failure to properly equip British soldier heroes here. In Lear, Shakespeare speaks of holy anger. We would like to see the British people's holy anger directed at a government that sends sons and daughters into harm's way in inadequate vehicles that do not protect them from bombs.
Alison Aldridge, 40, watched in Wootton Bassett as her nephew Will Aldridge's coffin was driven past. One of the youngest soldiers stationed in Helmand, at 18, Mr. Aldridge was killed in an explosion. Ignoring his own injuries, he was helping soldiers injured in an earlier blast.
"The army was what Will wanted all his life. It just didn't have a happy ending," she said, holding tears back behind dark glasses.
It did not have a happy ending on earth. With Christ and Socrates, I believe in a story that continues beyond death, where a young man's selfless courage in rescuing his friends will be known.
Addressing the judges who had condemned him to die, Socrates said simply -
"Bear in mind this one truth - no evil can come to a good man either in life or after death, and God does not neglect him" (Plato, Apology, 41 c,d).
Five of those who died are described here.