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Waking Vigil

8 September, 2010 1 comment

I woke late this afternoon as I’d worked over 24 hours prior to crashing at 09:30 this morning. I had meant to get up during the day and call home but I was woken by a friend to let me know there was a vigil at 17:30 tonight.

Despite the emotions they drag up, especially when the pipes are involved as was the case today, I will not miss one of these services. How could I? I’m part of the process supporting those who do the dirty work and I, as much as you, owe my continued liberties to those who fall.

In a recent email rally with Pete we discussed how times of severe emotion have a huge impact on our writing which was, of course, the whole reason for my starting this blog. Some people drink, others look for trouble, myself? I pour my emotion out onto the page, it’s a cathartic process, and one I’ve taken to more readily on this tour than any other.

So, after a month in theatre, here’s the first new lyrical part I’ve written, Think of it as an excerpt, it was written as a stream of consciousness thing and is yet to be refined into some form of lyric.

Buzzsaws and night lights force unwanted into dreams
Cause nightingales to sing no more of distant lands of green
As dust storms clear and sirens sing to herald the return
Of Kings unsung, though not alone, to start their journey home
The men of fire shall heed the call and sell their souls to ease the pain
As Merlin’s return shall once again bring darkness to the land
The uncrowned Kings who rule this land will earn their place in time
At setting Sun we’ll heed the call and send home someone’s son

The sentiment, I think, is clear although some of the imagery is specific to things over here. I think this process will result in something greater than the sum of its parts. We’ll just have to wait and see.

As it stands I’m now holding my breath awaiting the delivery of some new music to work with so that I can form this and some of the other ideas into material Morpheus Rising can put to use, I’m led to believe I won’t have to wait long.

Until then, I’ll stand vigil…

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Faith Healer

25 August, 2010 Leave a comment

Politics and Religion. Two subjects never to be raised in polite conversation… Just as well we’re anything but polite isn’t it?!

There are subtle differences to life in Afghanistan in 2010 when compared to 2007. The workplace is now a portacabin rather than a tent, as is the accommodation, but the locations are the same as is the food… And that’s not all, there is much more going on ‘out there’ with everyday seeing some level of contact with insurgents and PEDROs or MIRTs having to carry out their unenviable role. Perhaps I’m more aware of it this time as our guys are further forward and so they’re directly involved in some of the incidents.

Whichever it is it is somehow less profound than last time, perhaps due to the regularity, and I find myself considering different aspects of the whole process.

On my last tour we attended ‘ramp’ ceremonies to salute those who had passed as they were carried onto the aircraft which would transport them home. It was a humbling experience and one which left its mark on my psyche for all time. Those ceremonies still take place but the number of people involved tends to be smaller and consist of those directly involved or from the same unit. What we do instead now is stand ‘vigil’ en masse prior to the ramp ceremony. There is a parade where eulogies are read by the chain of command of the departed and, in most cases, also by their friends.

These ‘vigils’ are best likened to miniature Remembrance Services. They are led by a member of the Clergy and include the Last Post, 2 minutes silence and cannon fire by way of salute. And here’s my problem… I don’t believe any of those who have given their lives have done so for their Sovereign or God. I know of no soldier who has come here due to a sense of duty to their Nation. We’re here because we’ve been ordered to come and, if we didn’t, someone else would have to take our place and that would be ‘jack’! We’re also here because our friends are here, and who’s going to watch their backs if we don’t?

I’m a strong believer in a ‘higher power’, not necessarily the Church as an institution, but I do have faith. And yet I find the overtly religious ceremony of these services somehow offensive.

Did anyone ask the fallen if they wanted a religious service? Or is it something which is done simply to appease the consciences of those who may feel responsible? I for one find it odd that we should be thanking anyone, let alone God, for the fact that despite their death in a far off distant land the individual died doing what he loved and his family and friends still love him. I bet he didn’t. I challenge you to find anyone who relishes the thought of dying thousands of miles from home from a gun shot wound inflicted by someone they’ll never understand for a reason no-one can explain.

They’ll never see that this fight sets you free
Won’t understand what it takes to be a man
As you struggle to reconcile just who you are
With what you believe, the cause you hold in your hand

I understand that some people find solace and strength in their faith, as do I, but I also find it hypocritical and sanctimonious to preach that those who have laid down their lives have down so in the name of God. I believe that Orson Scott Card had the right idea in his Ender Saga. When we remember the fallen we should do so truthfully, warts and all…

We should speak for the dead, not of them.