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COMMENT: Poignant day as the bell tolls
9:00am Friday 6th July 2012 in Editorial Comment
THE tolling of the Memorial Bell yesterday would have been hugely poignant for those interested in symbolism.
With almost spooky coincidence we heard the bell ring for the first time at the Memorial Garden on the outskirts of Carterton just a few hours after the death knell sounded for Bicester’s 23 Pioneer Regiment, swept away by the Government cuts.
We also saw 500 people turn out in Wallingford to salute the personnel from RAF Benson as their exercised their freedom to march through the town yesterday afternoon. It was truly two sides of the same public coin — utter respect, admiration and gratitude for the service and sacrifices our military give for this country expressed in different circumstances.
It sticks in the throat that as the public was making these two tributes, we had the Government announcing its cull of 20,000 regular Army jobs.
The 23 Pioneer Regiment is 600-strong and has been based in Bicester in some form for more than 70 years. Yet with a stroke of a politician’s pen it is blown to the four winds.
We realise the country’s purse is looking threadbare but this is also a Government that like its predecessor quite happily seems to pitch its troops into expensive wars that seem to be as much about political image-making as protecting us from “harm”.
It might also have more credibility if it hadn’t quite happily taken a £500m punch to its finances to pay for a nakedly political U-turn over petrol tax.
Our personnel give their all for their country. We hope they realised on that black day yesterday at least the general public realise and value that.