The photo below, from Monday’s funeral for Private Tim Aplin, caught my eye in one of the papers yesterday.
All the politicians look affected by the moment, but it was the pain on Faulkner’s face that held my attention. I’d seen it before, as our Afghanistan casualities mount and military funerals become more frequent. Faulkner is feeling heavily the special burden all Defence ministers carry.
So while I was not expecting today’s announcement of Faulkner’s retirement from the ministry I was not surprised. That photo was the first thing I thought of when I heard the news that he was standing down.
But the practice of politicians attending soldiers’ funerals is a good one. While no minister takes the decision to send troops into combat lightly, it is important that they see firsthand the consequences of those decisions. The soldiers do want to go, but wives, kids, parents and friends can pay a terrible price.