When one walks through Central London it is peppered here or there with one type of monument or another; statues of the famous of former centuries, then of more modern times.
Similar symbolism is replicated throughout the rest of the UK and no doubt, in some instances, via different formats, every country of the world has its equivalents in some way, relevant to each geographical location.
We are all in such a rush during our average days that it can be easy just to walk by monuments and statues, often not realising what, or whom, they actually represent.
When I have taken time to read inscriptions, or study the imagery, then it is most edifying, and a huge privilege to link the same with either an historic moment, or a person of note.
One has to admire the artists and designers who sculpt these works or oversee their manufacture from commission. It must be both a huge privilege and responsibility, when one considers the remit of what is to be represented.
Paul Day has provided an admiral Monument to honour the fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan to represent a 25 year period.
When being interviewed on the radio, it was explained that he left the outer edges of the Monument’s supporting sides rough, (which held the centre piece itself). He chose not to use a smooth format, as leaving the edge rough signified that military involvement was still ongoing. Both subtle and poignant.
Central within the Monument is a large bronze round – to depict the concept of a ‘medal’ – one side representative of the Military and on the reverse side Civilians. He had thought a medal design would be appropriate, and he was most correct.
It is important that the youth of today know and appreciate the ongoing sacrifices made in these countries represented, and perhaps take time one day to go and see this new Monument.
If someone has given up their life elsewhere to protect inhabitants in those lands, enabling them to have a free and happier life, rather than suffer terrorism, and cruel inhumane treatment; and if they are also there to stop such terror groups from harming our country and its inhabitants, then we owe it to them, don’t you agree, to pay respects, as after all, they gave their lives – what more can anyone give to protect others from harm when in a war arena.
Today Her Majesty The Queen unveiled the Monument and many of the Royal Family were present as were Politicians (who inevitably carry a huge responsibility in political terms, when they send Military Services – and Civilians via one facility or another, charity and aid groups, Ambassadors and Staff to foreign lands), and we also remember the Medical Corps, food and supplies personnel, the roles of Naval and Air Support/Merchant Shipping, helicopters, tanks, landrovers, radio communications, as well as the local translators and civilians, whether residents or those who assist our troops.
Obviously present also, which is why I leave mention until last given their importance today, were the relatives of those who have given their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan.
It would seem to be the case that some either were not notified of the event, or could not get a ticket and therefore were not in attendance. That needs to be remedied urgently and should never have occurred in the first place.
One would like to think that if Her Majesty The Queen could be so informed, that she might hold a private reception for them and arrange for their visit to the Monument under security of the Military Services – not in the view of the press or public.
It was moving to see the Royal Marines Drumhead Service which is utilised in battle areas for the fallen. All the drums are stacked upon each other and draped with a Union Flag, representative of a Church Altar and over which a Padre holds a service.
For those whose kith and kin gave their life in Iraq or Afghanistan, be assured we are mindful we owe much to all, and I, for one, wish to honour them and say a sincere “thank you”. You will always remain honoured.
Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine