As the number of British troops killed in Afghanistan hits 100, more photos of the men and boys we have lost appear in the daily papers. It is absolutely fitting that the public should get to see the roll of honour, however it is a shame that the press don’t tell us about the good things these people are doing while they are still alive. It seems the only way for the troops to get any kind of recognition is to be kidnapped or killed, or to commit a hideous war crime.
Last October one of my boyfriend’s friends prevented a suicide bomber from taking out more civilians than he would have otherwise, while saving the lives of many of his army colleges in Afghanistan. I scanned the press for reports of this incredible act. Three months later it was finally reported, but that was only because the outstanding person in question became a member of the roll of honour himself whilst saving another life.
Many of us felt we shouldn’t have been involved in these conflicts in the first place- I was at demonstrations in both London and New York against the war in Iraq- but now we are involved. The vast majority of the troops are not killing innocent civilians or beating up prisoners; they genuinely want to make things better for the people in these countries- and in many areas they are.
We moan about our sweaty tube journeys but we get to shower when we get home, our troops in Afghanistan bake in sweat and sand and sometimes get to shower and shave every two weeks. Teenagers here who see ASBOs as a badge of honour get more column inches than teenagers who are earning true badges of honour everyday in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Whatever our politics I’m sure the majority of the British public would like to be told more about the everyday acts of courage and kindness. But I suppose good news doesn’t sell papers.