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Born to Soldier?

Ben Griffin of Veterans For Peace UK speaking at the Health Through Peace Conference organised by Medact in November 2015.

  • Fiona Gallagher 03/12/2015, 02:06

    A brilliant piece Ben .. It always impacts on me your natural and honest way of talking. No need to use flowery, poetic words. Just good old plain talking and from the heart . i hope that people will listen and maybe take something from your talk. Thanks for your openness and good heart.

    I’ve more than one shit drawer by the way 🙂

  • Robert Wells 03/12/2015, 06:33

    Nice one Ben ! Well Done .Powerful stuff.

  • Angela Kenny 03/12/2015, 07:35

    Very powerful speech. Truth is the way. My wish is that more people will hear it and then change will happen.

  • Michael Murphy 03/12/2015, 08:14

    Well said Ben

  • Glenn Fitzpatrick 03/12/2015, 10:10

    Thank you Ben, you really hit the nail on the head.

  • Inoke Momonakaya 03/12/2015, 10:47

    Well said Ben!!..

  • John Boulton 03/12/2015, 11:28

    Keep talking Ben, you do it very well. Great job.

  • Malcolm Samuel 03/12/2015, 19:38
    • Gus Hales 03/12/2015, 23:25

      Are A E Houseman, try this,

      The Day of Battle

      ‘FAR I hear the bugle blow
      To call me where I would not go,
      And the guns begin the song,
      “Soldier, fly or stay for long.”

      ‘Comrade, if to turn and fly 5
      Made a soldier never die,
      Fly I would, for who would not?
      ’Tis sure no pleasure to be shot.

      ‘But since the man that runs away
      Lives to die another day, 10
      And cowards’ funerals, when they come,
      Are not wept so well at home,

      ‘Therefore, though the best is bad,
      Stand and do the best, my lad;
      Stand and fight and see your slain, 15
      And take the bullet in your brain.’

      • Malcolm Samuel 04/12/2015, 13:49

        The Dove

        (Trad / Ewan MacColl)

        Well the dove she’s a pretty bird, and she sings as she flies
        She brings us glad tidings and she tells us no lies
        Well she flies in the mountains and the valley so low
        And if you live peaceful then she never will go

        Come all you young men, take a warning by me
        Don’t you go for a soldier, don’t you join no army
        For the dove she will leave you and the raven will come
        And death will come marching to the sound of a drum

        And come all pretty young girls, come walk in the sun
        And don’t let your young men ever carry a gun
        For the gun it will scare her and she’ll fly away
        And then there’ll be weeping by night and by day

        Repeat 1

        As sung by Hamish Imlach

        • Gus Hales 04/12/2015, 16:21

          Nice one Malcolm

          Should we have poetry war.

  • Nicola Beglin 03/12/2015, 20:32

    Hello Ben,

    Difficult to write this. I live in Exeter – would you be interested in talking in Exeter? I would be keen to organise.

  • Adrian Brook 04/12/2015, 16:21

    Nicola, I live near Exeter and would be glad to support this.

    Does anyone know if there there as been any progress on a branch of VFP for the South West? I would like to be able to meet with other VFP members but London is a bit far away.

  • Roger Bartrum 09/12/2015, 09:07

    Nice one Ben. I know you will have hated the standing ovation bit but it was richly deserved and demonstrates the honesty with which you speak and the power that it brings. Good power btw! Power to do good!! Respect. Peace.

  • Hugh Termorshuizen 30/05/2016, 08:54

    I grew up in 1970’s South Africa; a turbulent time, during which dad was called, at the start of the war in Angola, as Company Commander. By 1981, and as a 13 year old, the boys’ schools all over the country, became as militarised as the Hitler Youth League; given brown uniforms, and berets for cadet periods at school, and ordering us to spend one school holiday per year with the SADF, being trained for what was to come.
    We saw nothing wrong with it at the time … believing in the patriotic BS and the need to protect our borders from the ‘rooi gevaar’ (communism).
    But, as I grew older I developed exercise-induced asthma, from my soccer days … and realised that my indoctrination into the SADF, through Basic Training, was never going to be easy. I hoped to get medically reclassified (not only because I didn’t want to serve, despite my family having served from Delville Wood, through WWII, Korea and the Berlin Airlift, and into Angola).
    I was the one not BORN to be a soldier.
    But I was not reclassified. I remained a G1K1 (medically fit for service), with my only option of evading it lying in a university exemption (which I did not get until too late)
    My number was up!

    I am not going to go into detail how tough that was for me (there were many more who had it tougher) … but that fear of which you speak, through peer pressure, is something I experienced first hand. ,We started with collective correction, but when that failed to get me to make the needed run times, I was beaten by those I considered my mates; ostracised as the weak link, and humiliated beyond my understanding.
    But I took it. And I smiled. Despite the negative, I grew in confidence, and started realising that my pain threshold was reaching ever-increasing levels. I could hack that, at least. And I grew proud in that, alone.

    However … my qualm was never with the rigidity and harshness in the training.
    It’s demoralising to return to a country from a war in which your enemy became the new political power … and demoralising to know that YOU, in truth, were always the enemy.
    But even worse is that, 30 years on, and looking at friends’ profile pictures, they are still living in the ‘glory’ of their pasts; their green and maroon berets still separating them from their fellow veterans; a game of one-upmanship of their youths, and corps pride never having left them, so many years afterwards.
    It’s sad.
    But sadder still is reading the Youtube comments following your video posts. Youngsters STILL feel the need to be ‘men’ … who will fight for the bidding of their leaders who WON’T.

    I will fight again.
    I still DO.
    I won’t dismiss my service as all evil. I learnt a lot. And I apply it to the protection of my community, along with others who were never veterans, against crime.
    But I’ll NEVER fight again for a fucking flag!
    The only way to defeat THAT beast is to starve it.
    I now fight against any flag given me.
    F@!K the crown, the country … and F@!K patriotism!

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