Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Eleventh Hour

Another learning curve.

In Harrogate we have one of the largest army training colleges in the country, 16 and 17 year olds come to learn "how to be soldiers". For most of them it is the first time they are away from home and the first time they have money in their pockets. In the town we are always aware when they have pass out weekends. The centre is heaving with wiry youths with regulation hair cuts lurking around McDonalds and the night clubs. Some of them look utterly lost, others already have a swagger that is noticed, and admired, by the young ladies of North Yorkshire.

Today was different, they were in town for the Remembrance Ceremony. Not youths but young men, wearing immaculate uniforms, a huge pride in themselves and their futures. An awareness of what their predecessors had given and what they may be asked to give.
Any of the soldiers I saw today could be a casualty of war in the next twelve months. Let's pray not.


justmeagain said...

Thought provoking, indeed. Young men seem so VULNERABLE to me....

Style Mews said...

good post, a new generation of victims born again and again x

mantua maker said...

I've been to that army college! We went to a talk given by Richard Holmes, a TV historian who was also at one time the head of the TA. The talk took place in a lecture theatre that seated about 600 raw young recruits (maybe I exagerate, but we felt really swamped in a sea of khaki). As soon as Holmes stood on the stage and started talking (without a microphone) about life in Wellington's Army in all its brutality, there was total silence from the audience - all those boys were gripped.

librarylizzie said...

I know when I see them out and about in Harrogate I get a teeny lump in my throught. They do look so young.....and we know what might be their next posting

soubriquet said...

And just further north, in Catterick, a town tha's been a garrison town for over two thousand years, a few days ago I was buying my groceries, and a few last minute christmas boxes of chocolates.
An elderly Gurkha, and his wife were coming out of the store, he, walking slowly, leaning heavily on a stick.
Two youths, sauntering across the carpark suddenly changed shape, snapped from slouch to march in no seconds flat, and rushed to assist the elderly couple.
Two young lads, and an old man who's probably been there, done that.
Let's hope they have a chance to grow old, too, and in their turn, inspire a younger generation to respect.

I too, in Harrogate, look at those kids, thrown from school into a bewildering new life in uniform, I see them, roistering and raucous, and wonder where they'll be, a year from now.

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Hodmandod said...

I weep, and yet young men fight, it is what they have done for all of human history. And training them really well to do it must be better than just leaving them to batter each other of a Saturday night or because someone lives in a different post code. But I still cry.

sanjeet said...

good post, a new generation of victims born again and again
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