During the summer of 2013, my (then) fiancé was fixing the brake pads of our car while I sat on the garden wall with a coffee, enjoying the warmth of the sun on my pale arms and legs. I was savoring a rare day off from my hectic working life and had decided to waste an hour idly watching my fiancé work whist talking to him about the kind of trivial nonsense that couples discuss.
He stood briefly to stretch his back and have a drink of water, wiping grease marks from his hands onto his trousers. Teasing me that my pale skin seemed to glow in the harsh afternoon light, whilst his skin was a healthy nut-brown, turning the fine hair on his arms golden.
Suddenly a screeching of brakes, the slam of a car door and the sound of glass breaking shattered the silence of the sunny afternoon in suburbia. The reverberation so loud that we knew it was close. Moments later screaming filled the air.
Before I had the chance to set my cup down and turn to take in the scene before me, my fiancé was already half way down the street, running at full speed towards the incident. I walked to the end of the garden in time to see two cars, one turning sharply and speeding away from the scene, the other stationary, glass strewn on the ground around it.
I started jogging down the road; aware first aid may be needed. By the time I arrived at the scene, my fiancé had already assisted a woman and small girl to the side of the road, assessed them for injuries and seeing that they needed no urgent medical attention was on the phone to the police whilst simultaneously moving the car from the center of the road to the edge to allow traffic to pass.
Once the police had arrived and we had given our statements, it was ascertained our assistance was no longer required; we walked the 100 yards home.
“How, did you react so quickly?” I questioned my fiancé, “I hadn’t even made it to the edge of the garden and you were almost at the scene”
He shrugged, “Military training I suppose” he replied in a completely unassuming manner, as if running towards danger was the most natural reaction in the world.
And this is the case for all of our service men and women in the armed forces, regardless of country or nationality. I often wonder whether the people who join the military have these natural inbuilt characteristics of strength and bravery or whether it does come down to the training and discipline that they receive.
This is a subject I have often broached with my husband and in his humble and modest way he states that it is simply down to the training that military personnel receive, and that he does not naturally have the characteristics of courage, valor and fearlessness that he seems to portray.
I disagree, I think that the training can enhance these skills, however I believe it takes a certain kind of person to set their own life on the line in order to aid others. My husband and many of our friends have been on tour in recent conflicts, and all of these men and women we know, show the same characteristics of inner strength, perseverance, nerve and humor that my husband does.
So this Remembrance Day I will be standing beside my husband at the Cenotaph. I will wear my poppy with pride, not as symbol to glorify war, or as a racist smear, but as my own way of saying thank you and that I will always remember the sacrifices you have all made in the attempt to make the world a safer place.
For some moving war poetry on recent conflicts please follow the link below.