We hear a lot about the rather nebulous concept of ‘respect’ in the context of gang related activities in the UK.
Some people think that respect grows out of the barrel of a gun. It doesn’t, fear and respect are two very different things.
People who have held guns are often though the focus of respect. However it is not the action of holding the gun that engenders respect, it is the character of the individual holding the gun, their motivation for using the gun, that results in that respect.
Some ‘gangs’ deserve respect, some do not.
Just under 100 years ago we saw the formation of one of the biggest gangs this country has ever seen. They wore a khaki gang uniform or a blue gang uniform. They came from the nobility, the banks and universities, and they came from the mines, fields and factories.
They were called, and went, to fight in one of the most horrific conflicts the human race has ever had the crass stupidity to create. The gang members were not responsible for the conflict but away they went, literally walking into the jaws of death.
Such is the respect this gang is held in, that almost a century later people wear flowers and pretty much the whole population falls silent in memory of these people who gave their lives. That is respect.
It is with genuine sadness that I read of the death of Florence Green.
Who? Florence Green was the last surviving veteran who saw service in the First World War. She was but a girl when she joined up at the age of 18, serving at air bases under the banner of the WRAF. It may have been only two months before the armistice, but in what was a man’s war, this young woman joined not knowing what the future held or what her fate could have been, courage way beyond what I could hope to have. She has died just shy of her 111th birthday.
It has long been suggested that the when the last veteran died it would be fitting for them to be given a state funeral. I normally shrink away from the state, but in this instance this is something the state should be doing. I would hope that Florence Green’s family are given the option, with no pressure or obligation, for their relative to be laid to rest in a manner which allows the whole country to pay its respects. Not just to her, but to her generation.
I hope we never have to see if we can produce that generation’s like again, firstly because of the criminal human cost, and secondly because I doubt if we could.
Rest easy, Florence, and forgive us for not settling a debt that could never be repaid.