- Outspoken critic of government military policy backs ‘Abandoned Soldier’ campaign
- Sculpture created to highlight plight of forgotten veterans is itself decaying and forgotten
- Poetry book launch aims to reignite debate and help those physically and mentally scarred in recent conflicts
The ‘Abandoned Soldier’ campaign, centred on the controversial sculpture which may or may not be housed at Staffordshire’s National Memorial Arboretum (see below) received a boost when acclaimed military expert Major General Tim Cross CBE (retired) spoke out in its support. Cross was the most senior British officer involved in post-war planning after the Iraq war, and has been outspoken in his criticisms of US and UK foreign policy.
“There can’t be many people around who aren’t keenly aware of the sacrifices that our young men and women have made, and still are making in places like Iraq and Afghanistan,” commented Major-General Cross. “For most of us the obvious scars are the returning coffins, and the stories and pictures of the lost limbs and the physical rehabilitation that goes on. What is less obvious are the mental, psychological and spiritual scars borne by many who, on the face of it, return unharmed but who carry deep inside the hurt and pain of what they have seen and heard; all too often they are the forgotten casualties. Struggling to come to terms with all that they have endured, some are locked in loneliness and depression; they too need our care and commitment.”
Eirwen Rogers, one of the organisers of the campaign to have the ‘Abandoned Soldier’ statue bronzed for posterity and permanently installed at the National Memorial Arboretum, commented on the difficulties of finding a permanent home for a memorial that potentially embarrasses the authorities: “This statue belongs at the NMA, but because it is a memorial to the living, it is considered controversial. We will have it here for the launch of the accompanying book of poetry, but beyond that time its future is uncertain – much like that of the servicemen it represents. At the moment we can’t even get a definite commitment on how the statue will be transported to the site!”
It is hoped that the addition of Major-General Cross’s support will galvanise some commitment to action and hopefully also increase public awareness of the campaign. Cross himself concludes “The ‘Abandoned Soldier’ Project is a wonderful example of a determination by those who do care to do something about those who desperately need hope, love and restoration. I commend it unreservedly.”
About ‘Abandoned Soldier’ – the book of poetry
‘The Abandoned Soldier’ is a new book of poetry being launched on November 6th at the NMA to support the campaign, written by Llandrindod Wells based Mark Christmas. Himself an ex-serviceman and Psychology student, Christmas says ‘Abandonment is one of the worst words in the dictionary when you are involved with it in any context. Remember the dead, let the living not be forsaken in your memory’. Advance copies of Mark Christmas’ book are available now from Silverwood Books – contact the project using the details below.
The Abandoned Soldier team would like to thank copywriter David Tyler of Guru Communications (www.gurucomms.co.uk) who has given his time and experitise to help us with our press activities