I came across this great quote in Neil Oliver’s book Amazing Tales for Making Men out of Boys. Oliver is perhaps best known to us through his appearances on the BBC programme Coast. On page 63 he wrote this,
‘The older I get, the more I realise how easy I’ve had it all my life. Having been born white and male, into a loving family, living in Great Britain in the last third of the 20th Century, I’ve been dealt what amounts to a winning hand from the cosmic deck of cards. All the opportunities of life have been available to me since day one. I’ve never had to live with poverty, or endemic disease. I’ve never experienced any kind of prejudice or disadvantage born out of race, religion or creed. I’ve been kept safe all of my life by nameless strangers, from dangers both foreign and domestic. Our politicians are as keen to send our soldiers into wars in foreign parts as they ever were, but having been born beyond the grasp of conscription or National Service, as I have, such dangers have always been the other chap’s problems. At 40, I’ve lived long enough to be too old for conscription even if they reintroduced it tomorrow. My safety has been provided for me by people I don’t know and whom I haven’t bothered to thank. I have effectively enjoyed an endless childhood. I’ve acquired certain responsibilities along the way – jobs, mortgages, partner, children – but nothing on a par with the responsibilities borne by men of all generations before me. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson’s deluded colonel in A Few Good Men, I’ve slept under the blanket of security provided for me by other people’.
He’s right. I’m the same. And I’m not alone.
Millions of bodies lie have fallen in this country and in foreign nations. Those men and women gave their lives so that people like us could enjoy the fruits of their self sacrifice. It seems the least we can do to pause for a couple of minutes once a year and remember what they did.