Invictus Maneo - I remain undefeated
02 October 2017
Did you manage to watch any of the Invictus Games in September? My overall and lasting impression is one of inspiration. It is incredible how people overcome the most severe obstacles and rebuild their lives after significant trauma. I can say exactly the same about the Paralympics, which are equally inspirational and a must-see every four years.
Of course, the difference is that the Invictus Games are all about military women and men who are injured, sick or wounded, usually as a result of conflict and combat in the service of their country. You may recall some contentious press several weeks ago when it was suggested that school children should be taught more about our armed services, so they can consider a military career. The idea was that better information in schools might help address a shortage of recruits into the services.
This was quite normal when I left school in the 1970s. Most of my old masters were ex-military and the school ran a Combined Cadet Force that exposed us, in a small way, to some of the disciplines and demands of service life. Indeed, at 18 years old, I passed my entrance assessments to become an officer at RAF Cranwell. My careers teacher, however, had different ideas and persuaded me against it. I guess I’ll never know if it was good advice but I’m pretty sure his guidance was borne out of his own experiences. Many of the teachers had served in World War II, and he was certainly one of those when he was a young man. Perhaps the reality and horror of real combat steered him away from encouraging his young charges from going into the military.
I think that is one of the key sub-headings of the Invictus Games. Yes, it’s incredible to see people battle adversity and win, but it’s also a reminder of the true cost of conflict. People die and people get hurt, many of them completely innocent who are simply unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I wonder if there will ever be a time when such things are behind us.