Script

Introduction

Sheila Young- Writer-Dexter Productions

This is the final script for a ‘ stimulus’ piece of theatre that was created after a series of research sessions were undertaken by a group of ten young people .The research took place at The Chesterfield Library and The Derbyshire Records Office to enable them to research their local war memorials and commemoration ceremonies and with The Pomegranate Youth Theatre and Explorer Scout groups, to capture the thoughts and opinions of young people today. Writing workshops were then carried out in order to enable the young people to devise and create this stimulus piece based on their findings and in order that it might be shared with a wider audience. All the research and findings gathered are available on this website. Also on the website are the original pieces of writing created by the young writers Daniel Clark, Emma Rose Lawrence and Laura Karim

Many thanks to all that took part.
Sheila

Final Script

Written In Stone

SCENE 1

Modern day. On one side of the stage we see three lads, two are carrying the third between them. His arms are around their shoulders mirroring the way that soldiers carried the wounded off the battlefield, but these three are drunk. They are singing, ‘ We are Young’. There is the suggestion of a memorial in the centre of the stage.
LADS: Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun
LAD: ( out front)We’ve come stumbling out of a bar, me and me mates. It’s getting late. It’s freezing. The sort of cold that makes you want to piss yourself. But you don’t, because you’re with your mates, and that wouldn’t be cool. Not to mention fucking disgusting. So I’m walking up the street, in the freezing cold……. and then I see it……. just there. I don’t know what it is. I’m drunk, how can I? I just know that I need a piss and there’s something I can piss against. Quite convenient really. So I do it. I just piss.
He urinates up the memorial ,to do so he lets go of the other lad and the drunken lad falls down. The others pick him up and the song changes to, ‘We get knocked down but we get up again!’
And then I carry on walking with me mates. Just move on. Carry on. On my way home .

SCENE 2

On the other side of the stage an old lady approaches two young lads who are vandalising the memorial. The old lady stands and stares at them and shakes her head;
THUG 1: What you lookin’ at you old bitch?
LADY : You ought to be ashamed !
THUG 1:Fuck off you old cow
THUG 2: Ay granny gis some money for some fags!
They approach her, push her and she hits them with her bag. A passer-by sees this and intervenes;
PASSER-BY: Oi !
OLD LADY; Call the police they’re vandalising the war memorial!
Passer-by calls the police
THUG 1: It’s just a fuckin’ lump of stone! Some people died hundreds of years ago. So fuckin’ what? What’s that got to do with me?
THUG 2: She hit me with her fucking hambag!
PASSER-BY: Clear off before I hit you!
THUG 1. You can’t touch us ! That’s child abuse! We’re fifteen. We can do what the fuck we like ! We’ve got rights!! I’m gonna do you for assault, you old bitch!( They run off)
PASSER-BY: Are you alright love ?
OLD LADY: It just makes my blood boil! I think about my father and all the lads who never came back and I wonder what they would make of this ‘sorry world’. I wonder if my father and all the others that died could come back and see what they fought for, I wonder what their thoughts would be?

SCENE 3

VOICE 1: An estimated 722,785 British Servicemen were killed in the 1stWW. Imagine watching the crowd of 40,000 runners assembling for the London Marathon If they had been waiting to ‘go over the top’ on July 1st 1916, every single one of those runners would be dead by nightfall! If all the dead of WW1 could march side-by-side in a continuous procession, it would take them 4 days and nights to pass the Town Hall. The British Government faced with such huge numbers decided not to bring the Fallen home……..
………..besides where would they put them all?
192,000 wives had lost husbands and nearly 400,000 children had lost their fathers!! HOW WERE THEY TO BE REMEMBERED?
So they brought home one… a universal husband, father and son.

SCENE 4

Everybody forms an honour guard, standing side by side. There is the sound of a drum’s rhythmic, steady, slow beat. As each person speaks they drop their head as a mark of respect. As they did in the honour guard and as is shown on a lot of War memorials, the soldier with his head bent in respect.

1: A British soldier, unknown by name or rank, is exhumed from the battlefields of France to return to his home , where a King and a country for whom he fought and died prepare to honour him.
Drum beat, head bowed
2: The body is chosen from unknown British servicemen exhumed from four battle areas. The body was escorted to Boulogne to rest overnight in the Castle Citadel.
Drum beat, head bowed
3: The next day the coffin was placed inside another which had been sent over especially from England, made of two-inch thick oak.
Drum beat, head bowed
4: ‘HMS Verdun’ will carry him across the channel and cannons will sound his arrival home. The King will walk behind his coffin and mothers and widows will lay their flowers as he makes his journey to Westminster Abbey .
Drum beat, head bowed
5: 100 fellow soldiers, each winners of the Victoria Cross will form a guard of honour. 100 women will sit in the congregation, each having lost a husband and all their sons. 100 sandbags of earth from the battlefields of the war will fill the grave.
Drum beat, head bowed
6: Elizabeth Bowes Lyon soon to be Queen, will lay her wedding wreath upon the grave as will all subsequent royal brides. The Unknown Soldier. He will be honoured by Queens and buried with Kings.
Drum beat, head bowed
7: For some it was enough, for one widow left a letter to her husband ‘ To my Unknown Warrior, “I am so thankful that I shall never again have to read those cruel words, ‘regret — no trace’, I have found you at last.
8: But for most, all that was left as a physical memorial were their names; and they wanted their names to be remembered in their town, village, work place, school, church, cricket club, rugby club. BUT HOW WERE THEY TO BE REMEMBERED? Everyone wanted something worthy but everyone had different ideas of what that should be.

SCENE 5

( Past)There are three groups on the stage. At one side four War Memorial Committee members in a meeting, in the middle two war veterans. Vet 1 is missing an arm and at the other side a mother.
The Vets raise their glasses

VETS: To the lads always with us!
There is a pause
VET 2: Jim died last week. TB. Lungs packed in.
Pause
VET 1 : They’re having another Memorial meeting
VET 2: They’ll be after more money .
VET 1: Committees! Show me a committee anywhere that’s made up of the people it should be! All money and class, the same old story. Morris, he’s done bloody well out of it…business has boomed. What was it he had again?
VET 2: Short sighted.
VET 1: I used to take the piss out of him for them specs when we were kids. Lucky bastard.
VET: 2 And the church, don’t forget the church, the Reverend will have something to say I bet!
VET 1: Papers are full of it! Bloody government! All those promises…land fit for heroes! ( sarcastically) ‘A way to commemorate the sacrifice we made’. A sacrifice not all of us chose to make and those that did didn’t know the truth of it, the fact is we were lied to. We were told it would be sunshine and glory, not knee deep in mud with rats the size of dogs or strung up like scarecrows on barbed wire. They won’t put that on their memorial will they?
VET 2: Makes you question who this whole business is for. They might ask for suggestions and hold public meetings but nine times out of ten we’ll get what they want us to have.
VET 1: Why don’t they do something practical? What about some decent housing! Or a job! Bloody brass plaques! Glory, heroes, sacrifice! There’s nothing glorious about death! I don’t need a ceremony to remember Jack, and Charlie and Bill… I see their faces every night.
VET 2: And I see the way some of their wives look at me…why you and not Bill? Why didn’t my Charlie come home? Why were you spared? As if I haven’t asked myself that. The war will never let us go, you know. It will come back at all sorts of times. You finish up enlisting twice, once for the war and once for the nightmares. No monument is going to bring anyone back. I ask you …what was it for ? Was it bloody worth it ?
They freeze and VET 1 speaks

SCENE 6

VETERAN: Dear Madame Editor,
Last week you published an article highly commending our soldiers who died in the Great War as ‘the true heroes.’ Perhaps, Madame Editor, you had indeed forgotten about all of us who had come back and hadn’t died a horrific death at the hands of the Hun. But, amidst all your talk of the ‘true heroes’ who died, you didn’t once mention us, as if we were not heroes for carrying on living, but instead rather mild observers to the conflict. My heart may be beating, Madame Editor, but that does not make my role in the fighting inadmissible. My heart may be beating, Madame Editor, but that does not mean we came back wholly alive from Flanders Field….

SCENE 7

We cut to the committee meeting. This is made up of people of standing in the community .eg: vicar, headmaster, local dignitaries OR it could be the Houses of Parliament with opposing sides, as these meetings took place at all levels. The main point is that there were arguments, cross party, some heated, people could not agree.
COMM MEMBER : A memorial should be monumental to represent the sacrifice the fallen have made !A memorial should strike the imagination, arrest the attention and tell its own tale, children in generations to come should ask when they see it – What is that ? What does it mean ?
HEAR HEAR !
COMMITTEE MEMBER: It’s been suggested that we do something practical a convalescent home for soldiers, a park for their children, a hall for the families to have social activities. The fallen have not offered their lives in order to have their names engraved on stone or to be remembered by cenotaphs. They have given their lives to make England and civilisation safe for their children. We suggest something practical that benefits the community; that will mean that they hadn’t died in vain.
HEAR HEAR !
CHURCH/ VICAR; We cannot build a pleasure hall on foundations sodden with blood. I suggest a cross erected in the church yard’, a window, a bronze plaque in the church, a lych gate … The collections during the last few months have been poor as have the congregations, it is high time we pulled ourselves together and did much better!
This gradually builds to them all shouting over each other.
Person 1: Why don’t we have a cross?
Person 2: in my Church
Person 3: or in my Church
Person 4: or not have a cross at all.
Person 1: Why wouldn’t we have a cross?
Person 2: because they died for God
Person 4: but they didn’t die for God
Person 5: because they died for us
Person 1: which is why we don’t need a cross.
Person 1: How about a hall?
Person 2: near my Church
Person 4: but for drinking and laughing
Person 5: and having a good time
Person 3: which is a bit disrespectful really.
Person 5: Well how can you decide what’s disrespectful?
Person 6: My son died so you didn’t have to be dictated to.
Person 3: but that doesn’t mean it’s your decision.
Person 4: but she should have a say
Person 2: because we’ll be remembering her son
Person 3: but we’ll also be remembering others
Person 2: so we should have it in my Church.
VOICE: POLITICIAN: A memorial should bring dignity to an undignified death. It should be heroic, sanctified, the dead died willingly, a sacrifice for the greater good, it should be patriotic, a sermon written in stone, to help re-inforce our society. To re-establish order out of chaos, to plant the seeds of hope where there is dis-allusionment
VOICE: It should help the bereaved come to terms with their loss, a place to mourn, to answer the need to express and resolve the emotional trauma caused by the war.
ALL: THEY MUST BE REMEMBERED!
VOICE: ALL THIS DEATH HAS TO HAVE MEANING.!!! ONLY THEN CAN WE START TO HEAL!

SCENE 8

We go to the widow and mother figures
MOTHER 1: You get your letter….you open it like all the other women you’ve seen get them , one tiny bit of paper , a few lines that shatters your life, your hopes, the dreams you had for your precious boy.. A woman in Scotland has had five envelopes. A husband and four sons . She was presented to King George V and Queen Mary. When the Queen commented on her great sacrifice, she told her ‘It was no sacrifice, Ma’am. I did not give them willingly.’ I just wanted to say goodbye, to bring him home to us. So much pain, so many tears.
WIDOW: If it wasn’t for the children I would have gone with him. But things have to go on…the children still need feeding, the cows need milking. You wonder how you’re going to manage. They were only 3 years of age when my husband went into the army. I have not had any help from anyone! I feel very bitter about this war as my girls have lost a good father and I lost a good husband I have to send my ten year-old, scrubbing floors to supplement the family income? Sacrifice! I could tell you something but I won’t bore you with my tears. All the memorials in the world won’t compensate us, as only those that have lost their loved ones really understand.

MOTHER 2: I put on my best hat and I go. I try to be strong. I try to be stoic. You feel wrong if you break down; as if you’re letting people down .You feel selfish and I am proud, so proud of what he did for his country and he was my son and I’m grateful for all the people who want to honour him and all of them. I want him to be remembered. I want to see his name written in stone. I hope they put the monument right in the heart of the village. It’ll be like he’s come home, but grief is such a private pain,… ‘l go home and I sit and I do my crying on my own. I like to remember him singing. He was always singing. Now instead of the songs he’d promised to sing when he came back there‘ll only be a long and deafening silence.

SCENE 9 WARTIME

Soldier enters the room and faces the mother of the dead soldier. Mother is very bitter.
Mother: Why are you here? Where’s my son? Where’s George?
Soldier: I’m sorry.
Mother: I don’t understand, what are you saying?
Soldier: George didn’t make it. I was there when the bombs hit, it wasn’t pretty. Not many escaped and George was stretcher bearing, trying to carry a body away , they do that to those who won’t fight , put them out there in the firing line. Anyway they didn’t stop falling and…he’s gone. He died a hero’s death.
Mother: I bet you tell everybody that, don’t you? Your son died a hero’s death trying to save someone. Lies, all lies.
Soldier: I’m sorry.
Mother: Sorry? No you’re not. I bet you don’t even know my son, you don’t care. You’re probably just pleased it’s him and not you, he was only a ‘Conschie’ a coward. I’d say you should be grateful but it could be you next. There’s nothing to be grateful for. You’re not one he saved are you?
Soldier: No but-
Mother: Exactly so why are you here now telling me this. No one came to see poor Mary up the road when her husband died or 6 year old Elsie next door to tell her she no longer has a father.
Soldier: I’m here because George was my friend, I got to know him. I know he thought differently about killing and I didn’t agree with him but you deserved to know how he died. I’m not supposed to be here. Look if there was anything I could do, I would now everyone will remember now he died saving the country
Mother: Saving the country! He had no choice. Have you any idea how they treat people who don’t want to go and their families? He had no choice. His freedom was taken away from him, his life was taken away.
Soldier: Still it’s only right to remember all the boys who died to save us all. Surely you can see that?
Mother: ( laughs bitterly) They’ll not put a ‘Conschies’ name on their memorial, hero or not – you can go now . I’m his mother so don’t try to tell me how to remember my son.

SCENE 10

VOICE OF SOLDIER 1:
(He reads)-LETTER TO BE OPENED ON MY DEATH….
England, my England, I have willingly laid down my life for thee. More I could not do. If it were possible I would do it again , for the good of my fellow men. I have simply done my duty along with thousands of others. I ask one thing . I leave behind my loved ones, my wife and child. There is some ‘British Grit’ in this boy, and if I had lived , it would have been cultivated to the full. I have not been granted that privilege. The burden rests upon thy shoulder, Dear England, and if thou art grateful for the sacrifice I freely made for thee, then think of those I have left behind and keep them from want.
To all my fellow creatures I would say, Fear God, Serve the King, Honour all men.
R.E.Clark 14th January 1917
VOICE/SOLDIER 2: “By the time you read this I shall have been called to make with many others the greatest sacrifice of all and my last long leave will have been taken, I don’t want you to grieve or show any signs of loss. I have only done what many others have already done’.
VOICE/ SOLD 3: “I can never tell you how thankful I am for the happy home and comforts I have received from you all. I know it will be hard but be as cheerful over this parting as possible, and then set out to find a home where perhaps the bread earner has been called away and be a comfort and help to them. With love to all and do not grieve, Charlie.”
VOICE/ SOLD 4: I’m sorry I had to put you through all this, darling. Just thought I’d leave you with a last few words. I hope you have a wonderful and fulfilling life. Get married, have children etc. I will love you forever and will see you again .
WIFE : One in eight wives will die within a year of receiving the news of their husbands’ deaths not just from grief but from over work.

SCENE 11

Voices of Veterans all wearing poppies
VET: The British Legion viewed the poppy as the perfect memorial to the dead stating that: We take long to build our memorials. We argue about their shape and their position – and even at the best we but build our little mounds of stone and mud that shall be swept away. Nature requires no time to set up her great memorial, for her poppies grew on the newly-made graves of all the fallen, of all nations – an ever recurring and never dying memorial.
VET: ‘In the two minutes’ silence, I see great hosts of khaki-clad phantom figures, the ghosts of yesterday. The long line of soldier comrades, such noble comrades they were, march before my blurred vision.
VET: ‘I see them in battalions, brigades, divisions, Army corps, and I hear their cry: “In honouring the dead, forget not the living. Remember us, but remember, too, those who survived.” ’
VET: We were all heroes. ‘We are owed a debt of honour, my boys, we are proud of you all.’ May you never be belittled or forgotten.
VET: ‘Man is indeed a refined savage, and war is a hideous spectre born of the devil. If this war is the last and the world becomes the better for it — well and good. If not, God help the world!’

SCENE 12

PRESENT DAY
On one side of the stage there are three small groups. A couple in smart clothes not relatives , the mother of the dead soldier and a couple of lads.Tthey are at the funeral – Rob and Dave are on the other side of the stage.
Rob and Dave are sitting as if on a sofa

ROB: I don’t think I’m going to get back this time.
DAVE: Come on mate don’t go there.
ROB: No I mean it , I’m shittin myself this time. It’s getting worse. I keep seeing him just there one minute then – BOOM! I just know there’s one out there this time waiting for me with my name on it.
DAVE:( trying to lighten the mood) Look you’d better not die, I’m not carrying your coffin you weigh a ton and you know I’ve got a bad back!
ROB:( laughing) Bastard! You bloody will! And you’ll look bloody smart!
DAVE: What! No chance you’re getting me in a suit, choking on a tie…all that doom and gloom.
ROB: (serious ) No you’re right…I don’t want that. I want it to be like we are when we’re here, I want you to do something to make people remember the good times, all of us having a laugh.
DAVE: (still laughing) Right then I’ll wear a dress!
ROB: ( very serious now) Yes! Yes that’s it! Promise me!
DAVE: Fuck of !
ROB: No serious mate! Promise me on your mum’s life if I don’t come back you’ll wear a dress. Something really bright…from Primark…
DAVE: You’re not serious!
ROB: Yeah …serious…I want you to swear it to me. Swear it to me!
Really serious now
DAVE: OK mate. Keep your hair on. I swear. ( breaks the mood ) Only cos it’s never gonna happen! They embrace, then they part in slow motion and Rob hands Dave the dress then turns his back. We see Dave dressing up in a Primark dress. He is drinking and upset- there is the sound of a car horn/ or a knock on the door saying, ‘ time to go‘.
Cut to the Mother
MOTHER:( out front to audience) Rob was cremated, and I delayed the burial for a while until the rest of the regiment returned from Afghanistan. Then 50 guys came over from their base and they were part of the whole thing. It was very moving. One soldier placed his ashes in the ground. Another planted the tree, then one by one they took it in turns to take the shovel and fill in the hole, we hadn’t planned any of it, it just happened. Each one of them took part. It was so moving.
Dave turns into the scene and faces the mother across the stage, he is wearing the dress.
A smartly dressed couple who are not relatives look at him judgementally.

WOMAN: George! Look at that! At a funeral! No respect!
MAN: Disgusting, they ought to be ashamed. What’s this lad’s name whose died?
WOMAN: I’m not sure, but he was blown up in Afghanistan.
MAN: Tragic – I like us to show respect.
Mother slowly approaches Dave
WOMAN: Oh look, I think that must be the mother. I think she’s going to tell him to leave.
MAN: I should think so!
Mother embraces John and he breaks down.
MOTHER: You kept your promise……… I know how hard it’s been for you, thanks love.
DAVE: Do you think he would like the colour? He wanted orange. They didn’t have orange.
MOTHER: I like it .
They embrace.
CUT to Mother speech out front,…
MOTHER: ‘Then I did what you do with squaddies. I put a few hundred pounds behind the bar of the local pub, asked them to put on some hot pork rolls, and let them drink and eat.
WW1 VET: We vets treated Armistice Day as a day of festivity. A day to gather at the Memorial to remember our fallen pals with a drink and try to forget the horror of it.
MOTHER: It gave me an opportunity also to meet and talk more freely with some of the young men who had served with Rob. The burial ceremony had the effect that I wanted, which was to allow the lads to say goodbye.’
VET:…But the newspapers began to criticise us, to judge us, said we were being disrespectful to the bereaved…..
MOTHER :They weren’t just saying goodbye to Rob .They were saying goodbye to all the men they had lost. The guys never really get to say goodbye when someone dies on operations. They just have to get on and do their jobs. Then they come home, and all they can do is visit their friends’ graves.
VET : Who says there’s a right way to remember? The only thing that matters is that we do and that it has meaning, not some choreographed ritual, not for a photo opportunity to help with your political career, ‘should I attend or not? should I wear a poppy or not ? What do the voters say?’
MOTHER; It just has to come from the heart…
VET: So if you come because you have to, or because you think you should, better not to come at all, they deserve more than that.

SCENE 13

LETTER: This can be read by two ghost soldiers or it can be shared between those writing and those receiving the letter, the mothers and the soldiers, as a group piece across the time divide .
To the best mum in the world….
Dear Mum
This is a letter I hoped you’d never receive because it’s just a verification of that terse black edged card you received some time ago. Tomorrow we go into action, no doubt lives maybe lost but if this leaves the world a slightly better place then I am perfectly willing to make that sacrifice. Don’t get me wrong old mum , I’m no flag waving patriot! No my little world is centred around you and dad. You are worth fighting for and if it strengthens your security in any way then it’s worth dying for too. I want no flowers, no tears, no epitaph, just be proud. Then I can rest in peace knowing I’ve done a good job, surely there’s no better way of dying. I loved you mum. You were the best mum in the world.
Goodbye , your son.
Lights down- cut to poppies.

Additional Script

Additional scripts by young writers.

Daniel Clark

Dear Madame Editor,

Last week you published an article highly commending our soldiers who died in the Great War as ‘the true heroes.’ Perhaps, Madame Editor, you had indeed forgotten about all of us who had come back and hadn’t died a horrific death at the hands of the Hun. But, amidst all your talk of the ‘true heroes’ who died, you didn’t once mention us, as if we were not heroes for carrying on living, but instead rather mild observers to the conflict. My heart may be beating, Madame Editor, but that does not make my role in the fighting inadmissible. My heart may be beating, Madame Editor, but that does not mean back wholly alive from Flanders Fields.

Emma Rose Lawrence and Daniel Clark

Person 1: Why don’t we have a cross

Person 2: in my Church

Person 3: or in my Church

Person 4: or not have a cross at all.

Person 1: Why wouldn’t we have a cross?

Person 2: Because they died for God

Person 4: but they didn’t die for God

Person 5: because they died for us

Person 1: which is why we don’t need a cross.

Person 1: How about a hall

Person 2: near my Church

Person 4: but for drinking and laughing

Person 5: and having a good time

Person 3: which is a bit disrespectful really.

Person 5: Well how can you decide what’s disrespectful?

Person 6: My son died so you didn’t have to be dictated to.

Person 3: But that doesn’t mean it’s your decision.

Person 4: But she should have a say

Person 2: because we’ll be remembering her son

Person 3: but we’ll also be remembering others

Person 2: so we should have it in my Church.

Emma Rose Lawrence

Soldier enters the room and faces the mother of the dead soldier
Mother: Why are you here? Where’s my son? Where’s George?

Soldier: I’m sorry
Mother: I don’t understand, what are you saying?

Soldier: George didn’t make it. I was there when the bombs hit, it wasn’t pretty. Not many escaped and George was trying to carry a body away but they didn’t stop falling and…he’s gone. He died a hero’s death.
Mother: I bet you tell everybody that, don’t you? Your son died a hero’s death trying to save someone. Lies, all lies.

Soldier: I’m sorry
Mother: Sorry? No you’re not. I bet you don’t even know my son, you don’t care. You’re probably just pleased it’s him and not you. I’d say you should be grateful but it could be you next. There’s nothing to be grateful for, he didn’t save you from dying did he?

Soldier: No but-
Mother: Exactly so why are you here now telling me this. No one came to see poor Mary up the road when her husband died or 6 year old Elsie next door to tell her she no longer has a father. All anyone cares about is the public image. There’s no compassion or understanding left in the world.

Soldier: I’m here because George was my friend and you deserved to know how he died. I’m not supposed to be here.
Mother: You’re not listening to me are you? There’s nothing glorious or heroic about death. Do you really understand what it’s like to lose your family, your friends one after the other and know there are still more deaths to come?

Soldier: Look if there was anything I could do, I would. There’s talk about poppies being planted in the tower of London, one for each soldier, to remember them by.
Mother: I don’t need poppies to remember my son.

Soldier: I know but… Everyone will know he died saving the country
Mother: He was conscripted, he had no choice. He was an ordinary person forced to go war, and for what? So you lot could squabble over how to plant a few flowers or how to dress up a lump of stone on the ground to represent them. They’re real people. My son was a real person with a life outside all of this that you will never understand, so don’t try to. He didn’t ask for a public memorial for his death and he wouldn’t have got one if he didn’t fight but he had no choice. His freedom was taken away from him; his life was taken away.

Soldier: Still it’s only right to remember him and all the soldiers who died to save us all. Surely you can see that.
Mother: I’m his mother and I’m telling you that I should be allowed to remember George my own way.
The mother leaves and the soldier is now an old man.

Soldier: All those years ago when George’s mother told me she has a right to remember in her own way I didn’t understand what she meant. I was naïve in thinking that the poppies and war memorials were best for everybody. Every Saturday night when we weren’t in duty, George and I went to the pub to toast our friends who we’d lost. It soon became more of a way to forget than to remember. When George died I was lost, my drinking buddy was no longer there and I couldn’t even go into the pub let alone drink. I moved on, got married, had kids tried to live a normal life but I never forgot George. I couldn’t stand the memorial services because I couldn’t help but think George was worth more than that.

So I thought I’d do it my own way and I sat on the memorial with two bottles. I drank mine and left George’s on the memorial with a letter. You here so much in the news about teenagers and drunks desecrating memorials and yet it doesn’t seem to bother me. The people who truly want to remember the soldiers just mourn them like normal people do when they’ve lost someone. I now understand what Georges’ mother meant; we should be allowed to remember George in our own way. This country took his life and now they want to take his honour as well.