Thank you for the frozen nights,
Asleep on the dead grass.
Thank you for the loss of innocence,
The blood-soaked beaches of teenage blood.
Thank you for thoughtless, selfless, single-minded devotion,
To a world free of barbarism, intolerance, and hatred.
Thank you for the naivety of youth,
Lost amongst the massacre of your peers.
Thank you for not thinking of yourself, but only for others,
To the detriment of only yourself.
Thank you for the humblest of attitude,
To the greatest of sacrifice,
So that others may live a normal life.
Thank you for the mud, the hunger, the uncertainty.
The near-misses and the death-defying moments.
The lost causes and the wounded flesh.
Thank you for your contribution, to the cause of humankind.
To defying ‘human nature’ and proving humanity’s worth.
Thank you for the sleepless nights, the patrols, the exhaustion,
The digging of graves and the dumping of bodies.
Thank you for the torment. For the horror of causing death, for the sake of life.
For becoming an animal so that others may be human.
Thank you for the liberation of Belsen.
Thank you for confronting the depths of human barbarity,
With the courage of biblical proportions.
For human skeletons and bulldozed carcasses,
For mass graves and the stench of death.
Thank you for the nightmares, the flashbacks, and the scarred memories.
Thank you for proving to me that justice is worth fighting for.
Thank you for proving to me that at the lowest of the low,
There are those willing,
To turn their back on the hills, the sea, the football, the family,
The trams and the playground. The innocence of poverty.
And instead face the concrete jungle of Portsmouth Harbour,
And look towards a sea of massacres and tyranny.
The tears we shed are of nothing but pride.