Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Military Dress

Pathos - I wasn't a lit major, but I think that's the right word.

If any of you have seen Lars and the Real Girl then you understand how even the most ludicrous situations can evoke sincere emotions. I sat down to watch that movie half expecting a train wreck of bad slapstick and sexual innuendo, but was shockingly surprised to find it to be a well-played story with a sincerity I hadn't expected (highly recommend it if you haven't seen it - tough guys might want to watch it alone).

The same is true of this picture. When I read the headlines and saw the picture I was prepared for some farcical tale, but found something different. Barry Delaney, pictured, wore the dress and pink leg warmers to the funeral of his friend, Private Kevin Elliot. Elliot was killed in Afghanistan. The military press release put it this way:
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed the death of Sergeant Stuart Millar and Private Kevin Elliott of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland. 
The soldiers were killed as a result of an explosion believed to have been caused by a rocket-propelled grenade when they were attacked by insurgents whilst patrolling on foot in Babaji District, Helmand Province on the morning of Monday 31 August 2009.
Elliot and Delaney had made a pact that whoever died first, the survivor would wear a dress to the funeral. Following Elliot's death at 24, Delaney fulfilled the pact, surrounded by Elliot's colleagues in their regimental uniforms. The humor of a man in a dress at a military funeral is not lost on me, but at the same time I can't help but think that we would all be lucky indeed to have friends as true as Barry Delaney.

The Times

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