13 October 2008

Here's To The Heroes

I sat on my terrace yesterday afternoon waiting for John and Sandie, our lunch guests to arrive. I’d had a glass of rose and was sitting waiting for them, looking up at the glorious blue sky which was dotted with paragliders who jump off the mountain behind our house. It reminded me of a presentation I did in BT about ‘Courage’ (please don’t confuse me with Gordon Brown), when I said that when a paraglider jumps off the mountain, he or she does so in the knowledge that they either take off ……..or they don’t! If they do (take off) they are generally ok whilst if they don’t, it was a nice funeral. That’s courage. 

Just as I was thinking this, the music I had put on suddenly bust into ‘ Here's To the Heroes’. Not a great classical hit but something which stirs my soul and, I’m not afraid to admit it, brings a tear to my eye.  

I looked up above and thought of my neighbour, Rene, who was a paraglider. I say, ‘was’, as he used to jump off of our mountain, Les Courmettes, but one day he missed a thermal, his  wings folded and he hurtled towards earth. He tells me that there were two choices given that the was too low to deploy his parachute. He could either land on his back or his legs. He chose his legs………and ended up in Cannes hospital for 6 months. He’s fine now but has given up jumping into fresh air and now does gardening and cycling – much safer! 

As the song progressed and the lyrics became more synonymous with personal achievement and the music became more emotional, I thought, ‘Why did they not play this when the Olympians, or Paralympians returned home’? Why is this song not played when our returning heroes from Afghanistan and Iraq step off a plane? We’re crap at this sort of thing. We’ve no idea how to celebrate heroism. OK – they go to Buckingham Palace sometimes, but in America, they are welcomed back into the community, despite some films portraying the opposite, as heroes. The flags are out and each town welcomes its returning heroes. They’ve done their country proud and they are celebrated for their sacrifice. 

Listen to the song and think about our guys fighting in distant lands. 


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