War is nasty, war is cruel, war is a killer. War robs families of sons and daughters, of fathers, mothers, uncles, brothers and sisters. War is rarely kind. But war at times is a necessary evil – an evil that is necessary to rid the world of evil. It doesn’t always succeed and it is right that we should always ask if there should be fighting and if there should by dying.
Peebles songwriter Eric Bogle asked those questions in his poignant composition Willie McBride. Bogle posed the question of the 16-year-old soldier who died in action. He asked the question, but provided no answer. From beyond the grave came an answer.
It’s in a song called Willie McBride’s Reply – you’ll find it on a web search. Willie says it was wasn’t for king, country, empire or glory that he went and died. It was for the cause of freedom.
Yesterday the Queen was in Bogle’s home town where she met the proud but likely still grieving parents of Royal Marine Commando Alec Lucas who was killed in Afghanistan in 2008 and who was buried with full military honours in the town.
Adrian and Sue stood with the Queen before a solitary plaque bearing their son’s name attached to the war memorial which carries the names of those killed in two world wars. The Queen met many people yesterday. Adrian and Sue deserved their handshakes, just a few days after Armed Forces Day, because their son, like many others, knew the call of duty in the defence of freedom.