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Badges of honour: continuing needs for old words

This time last month, the commemorations to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings were starting to be held.  I found them moving, poignant and dignified.  Most memorable were the remarks of those who had taken part, whose numbers, like the tides on the Normandy beaches, are ebbing away due to their age.  Yet what astonishing and remarkable men and women they were.  Never forgotten.

Unlike my 95-year old mother who was a WRN stationed in Weymouth during Operation Overlord, their memories have remained pin sharp and crystal clear.  The understated manner in which they spoke about their experiences of the ferocity and horror of battle was humbling.  There was no 21st century scream of “Me, me, me!”.  Instead, their laser-like compassionate focus was on their comrades, especially those who were killed or injured. 

During the last four weeks, I have re-read many articles written about the commemorations.  What struck me most powerfully was the vocabulary used to describe the behaviours, motives and values of the soldiers, sailors and pilots.  (Pleasingly, due recognition is now being paid to the countless women involved, many working covertly behind enemy lines or diligently in logistical activities, such as Mum.)  These words resonated strongly with me.  They bear repeating, so here in a random order is a selection: