Friday, 7 September 2012

Stopped in my tracks by tragic reality

Bristol Cathedral
The funeral of a young soldier stopped me in my tracks this week as I strolled along in the morning sun to do some work at Bristol Library. As I headed towards Bristol Cathedral on College Green, I noticed a large gathering of people in military uniform milling around. A policeman approached and asked if I could keep to the outside. He explained that a large military funeral was taking place for a soldier killed in Afghanistan.

So I stood quietly and waited for the hearse to arrive with the coffin of Lt Andrew Chesterman, aged 26, of 3rd Battalion The Rifles; he had been shot on August 9 at a roadside bombing. And as I watched, it brought home to me the deaths of all those servicemen who lost their lives in the First World War, just like Lt Chesterman, leaving grieving families behind.

Perhaps that sounds rather trite, but events are always less shocking when viewed from a distance and history has a way of taking the sting out of things. After Tuesday's sad funeral, the tragic deaths of all those servicemen whose letters I'm reading 100 years later, seemed very real.

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