I’ve never been much of a fan of the military forces but a sense of friendship and curiosity brought me to the commissioning ceremony of a friend of mine into the Irish Air Corps. Strangely, it coincided with the posthumous awarding of the distinguished service medal to the families of four Irish airmen who were killed during the course of a rescue in 1999 (only in Ireland would it take nine years to acknowledge what was a fairly open and shut case of bravery and going beyond the course of duty). What was a day of great celebration for eight young men and their friends and families was blended rather incongruously with the re-opening of wounds for others, as the two things were shoe-horned into one ceremony, each half having an audience who probably didn’t need or want to be there for the other half. It was somewhat like mixing a funeral with a wedding.
So, why the need for this? I am reliably informed that our glorious Minister for Defence, Willie O’Dea, wanted to kill two birds with one stone. How very sensitive of him. Towards the end of the ceremony he made a short speech which included mention of his recent trip to visit Irish troops stationed in Chad. Apparently they are doing great work to help the situation in Darfur. This intrigued me greatly as Darfur is in Sudan, quite a different part of Africa from Chad. It’s a little like saying that forces stationed in Bulgaria are of great assistance to the people of Ireland. And my poor old mate had to salute this little fucker.
Still, seeing this wee girl (only eight, so born after her dad’s death) running around happy as Larry would bring a smile to anyone’s face.
Picture from www.ireland.com