“Soldiers are citizens of death’s grey land, drawing no dividend from time’s tomorrows.”
It is easy to overlook. It is easy to be distracted. The modern lifestyle, buzzing with all kinds of high-tech gadgets and flashing screens, makes it even more easy to ignore, to forget.
Ever craving for the latest celebrity tweet, the latest tv show, the latest political scandal, people overlook that warfighters still stake their lives on a daily basis so that we can sleep safely at night. I think we all see it in our everyday lives.
A great thing I learned from studying History is the value of memory and experience. This forgetfulness that afflicts our society isn’t something novel. It has happened before. After World War One had ended and the screaming of the guns faded away in memory, returning soldiers—unneeded anymore— were soon forgotten, their contribution and sacrifice appreciated only by a few. In South Africa, during the border war that lasted almost 25 years, few even knew, let alone appreciated, the sweat and blood that young South Africans, of every colour, were shedding defending their country.
But is it reasonable, or even practical, for a society to be constantly on battle footing? Indeed it is not. But there exists a middle ground between constant war mode and complete forgetfulness. A middle ground where we take a moment to reflect and appreciate, and it doesn’t have to be flashy or loud; actions, after all, speak louder than words. A smile, a handshake, a letter of appreciation, a waving flag. Small actions of huge value.
Lest we forget.