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Letter: How did I spend Remembrance week in New Forest? Trembling with terror, screaming in fright.

How did I spend Remembrance week? Trembling with terror, screaming in fright. Cannonfire by day, deafening fireworks by night. Headaches, insomnia, muscle pain… and I still have the Armistice blasts to get through.

Is it not enough that the news brings horrific scenes of war? Do we need to simulate it during ceremonies as well? It’s important to honour the dead, but what about survivors? Many combat vets say they don’t want to re-experience it. Why not respect their wishes?

The results of a local survey last year showed a majority preferred quieter forms of celebration. In fact, 94% of respondents said they preferred the moment of silence to any other form of commemoration. I’ll say that again: 94% wanted silence.

Unveiling of Lymington Remembrance Day poppy soldier (picture: Steve West)
Unveiling of Lymington Remembrance Day poppy soldier (picture: Steve West)

Should we consider cannonfire and fireworks as solemn or respectful? The cannon is designed for one cruel purpose. Its noise alone (150+ Db) injures everything for miles around, most of all the ones who ignite it.

Scientists are now finding microscopic scarring, clear evidence of brain damage, in non-combat soldiers who died a few years after firing heavy artillery. Every organ was affected. The men had complained of stomach pains, hearing loss, cognitive impairment, anxiety, headaches, insomnia.

At 120+ Db, fireworks can cause similar scars. Whether we realise it or not, all noise above 100Db unleashes damaging vibrations.

The New Forest is densely populated. More than a third of us live with chronic health problems. Half of us keep pets. Here in this fragile ecosystem of unique wildlife and commoning animals, our population climbs, the daily din doubles. That is why unnecessary noise must be mitigated if we are to preserve what sets us apart.

Our war heroes’ dying wish was not for us to remember them at the decibels that marked their most hellish hours. Prayer and donations to veterans’ charities are less dramatic, but more meaningful. As a former news correspondent with PTSD, I cling to the hope I may one year enjoy a November free of constant fear. The kind of November I’m sure our heroes hoped for, too.

AS Delmont


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