The Shame of Ireland
Christmas 1966 -
The young Veteran of the Belgian Congo was let home for Christmas Day -
I recall his loving but painful face that day - he laid down on the old settee in front of the warm white range...he had a shirt and tie on and a pale blue cardigan with leather buttons....
The walking stick was beside him should he want to get up....his frail body needed support...he looked so weak...and yet the sadness in his eyes makes me now realise that he knew that this was his last Christmas...He had done two journeys to that Belgian Congo as part of the UN Peacekeeping Soldiers...
He was an Irish Soldier...His last journey was with his battalion to escort the many dead Irish Soldiers back home to Ireland...This soldier within months became very ill as many other Irish Soldiers did also...this young man now lying on that old green chaise longue that Mam had bought at some auction was dying...but his siblings - all just children did not understand that back then...yet the memory still is so vivid - Ten years my senior I stood in awe of this young man - my oldest brother -
God Bless you dear Francis - how you struggled to fight the cancer that broke your body down - how you so much wanted to live...
1st July 1967 you passed away and no longer had cancer control of your young body...You were only one month short of 23 years and already you had lived such a full life of love, blessings and duty to Ireland and the United Nations - You were our Brother and Mam's Best Friend..
Although the Irish Army discharged you on Health Grounds when you became a young dying man - Thanks to Captain Swan of the Irish Army you got a military funeral..as you deserved...Now as the decades have come and gone..You are still my oldest brother...my hero...our Mother's best friend..and a true Irish Soldier who in one way or another gave his health, his life for Peace...Forever Loved...Forever Missed...The Forgotten Soldier by many but never by me...Your Loving Sister...Forever in my Heart...
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