As the folk of Wootton Bassett ready themselves to honour another cortege, it seems that a milestone is passing. We all know that a soldier of the Royal Anglians has become the 100th British fatality in Afghanistan during this year. In due course, we shall hear his name. We have, though, moved beyond names and into numbers.
At the moment, the tally stands at 237 of our people lost since 2002; the first of these, as only the regiment now remembers, was also a Royal Anglian.
The longer the campaign continues, the higher the toll, the more possible that we at home shall become anaesthetised and allow ourselves to regard the numbers as just that. These were people.They volunteered, for whatever motives, to serve their country in whatever ways our political masters deemed appropriate. We can assume that, when accepting the risks, these public servants were not financially motivated.
It was ever thus.