Thursday, July 06, 2006

Battle Scars

This past Saturday has been a poignant and enlightening one for me.

1st of July 2006 marked the 90th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Almost 20,000 soldiers lost their lives that day...many of them in the first four hours...and that's only the British. French, Canadians, Australians, South Africans, New Zealanders, Indians....over 600,000 casualties in that one battle alone. And that's not even counting the Germans...more hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Fathers, brothers, sons and uncles, each and every one of them.

I watched some of the memorial service on Saturday evening (NZ time), and what struck me most, was seeing the few elderly surviving veterans that served their countries all those years ago in this brutal war. There were both British and German soldiers present...and with a healthy mutual respect they shook hands. It wasn't personal. Men were doing what they were ordered to do and they did it proudly for what they believed in and loved....both sides fighting for their country and it's future generations.

German General Hindenburg himself said of the allies "I was proud of them. They kept coming and we kept shooting them but still they came."

1st of July 2006 was also the day that the English were knocked out of the FIFA World Cup Championship. From what I've read and heard, England has been overrun with flags and supporters. Some parents have even been neglecting their children during games! There are thousands upon thousands of English supporters in Germany watching their 'boys'.

Now that England is no longer a contender, I suspect that the majority of their fans have made their way home. Beckham has resigned his captaincy...Erikssen has stepped down as manager (or been retired, not entirely sure, maybe that's what happens about you've been with the team for 6 years, don't know). There have been tears and apologies aplenty.

I really do understand the fever with which World Cup sport can take over our days/nights....I certainly understand the disappointment of having your team knocked out...afterall am I not an avid All Black supporter and seen my boys go the same way on various occasions? Whether you've been supporting Brazil, Australia, Argentina..whoever...you can't help but feel discouraged.

Please don't misunderstand me, I am not criticising any particular team, country or any one person....I am merely saying that, yes, it's natural to feel disappointment when your team doesn't get through to the semis or become part of the finals of an event so prestigious in the sporting arena.

But the most important part is....nobody died.

And from my point of view, for what it's worth...we can all live with that.
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