This is a repost of an article I published anonymously on another website earlier this year. I did so because I wrongly thought I shouldn’t be seen to provoke the journalists I am complaining about.  I now think I should have put my name to it.


I’ll keep this short.  I am disgusted at the term “Heroes” being used as the primary Recruiting Sergeant to draft impressionable young boys into the armed forces.

For hundreds of years this bald lie, that serving Queen and country is the noblest calling, has been peddled to the male youth of this country, who often neither have the guile to see through it, nor the wherewithal to do anything else with their lives.  How many MP’s sons do we see being brought back in body bags? Their collected limbs loosely arranged inside a reusable black tin coffin, and draped in the flag of our country.  These poor souls are paraded through the streets of Wooton Basset, with a care for their welfare that was shamefully not evident when they were alive.  Rather than line the streets of that Wiltshire town, their families, and those mawkish sightseers, who travel for the pleasure, should be standing outside the Houses of Parliament, and petitioning every MP in the land.

The term hero, is now casually applied to every serving soldier, whether on the front line, in harm’s way in Afghanistan or Iraq, or not.  Getting killed is not heroic.  Signing up because you have no other opportunity in life is not heroic. It may well be brave or courageous, but heroism is the selfless act of valour, when you have the choice to do otherwise.

It is a foul calumny for politicians far from any danger (as they always are), and for gin-sodden newspaper editors to abuse this term in such a way, and in doing so, recruit another platoon of gullible squaddies who believe the lie, that they can turn their life around by merely taking the Queen’s shilling.

Even setting aside the mortality rates, the number of kids returning from the Middle East as broken men, literally and figuratively is a disgrace.  We had no business being in Iraq, and our job in Afghanistan is done.  This is a cost that is too high to bear.

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Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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