Survivors of war deserve our respect as well, says George Grubb
Remembrance Day is not just about war and those who died. It is about those who come back wounded, mentally damaged and unable to live “normal” lives because of the trauma of battle.
I have in my possession a photograph of my dad standing in the archway of the City Chambers, along with others, as they received their First World War medals from the Lord Provost. My dad was awarded the Military Medal in 1917, but by the time he received it in 1919 he was an amputee at age 21.
His artificial limb was a heavy one with little flexibility in it, so he walked by swinging the whole limb in front of him.
One Saturday we took a walk up the Radical Road in Holyrood Park. We started at the palace end and walked up the steep path and down to the road and then up to Salisbury to get a tram home. It was a great walk. Later I discovered his “stump” – the small remaining bit of the leg that his artificial leg was attached to, was chaffed and bleeding. In later years I took my own children up the Radical Road. We were all fit and able and I began to realise what it cost my dad in his everyday life.
He died two months before he was due to retire from the civil service. After his funeral I took his limbs back to the Ministry of Pensions. I carried them into the Pensions Office. “Put them over there – do you want a receipt?” “No thank you, I’m just returning them to the government who sent him to the trenches.”
Many memories still live on but every time I walk through the arches of the City Chambers, often past demonstrators, I think of my dad standing there receiving his medal for bravery from the Lord Provost, and that he lived in the trenches, the medical treatment he received when he was shot up, and the life that he lived until his death. He was my hero.
George Grubb is Edinburgh’s Lord Provost