I have been watching the Invictus Games last week, and I have loved it! I’m not usually a sports fan, but this had me watching intently. I know for me personally, it can be easy to forget what fantastic work servicemen and women do. We may see flickers of images of war on the news or in the paper, but then we can turn to the next channel or flick over the page. They can’t do that. It is their life, and war is something they can never stop thinking about it, and along with that level of commitment to service, they are burdened with worry and the fear. But it is not just a sacrifice they make for themselves, but also for all their friends and family. All for us. It is hugely admirable and I am so proud that the Invictus Games has been created to shine a spotlight and give thanks to them.
The Invictus Games is for wounded veterans, who lost part of their life, to protect ours. It may be that they have a physical impairment; they have lost a limb, their sight, or have brain damage. Completely life altering diagnosis’s…yet they come back fighting. The strength and determination they have showed is incredible. But it doesn’t just appear overnight, it takes months, sometimes years, of dedication. Days of struggle, where life seems so dark, they start to question why they are even still fighting. But they continue push through, and the Invictus Games gives them the opportunity to highlight how hard they have worked.
I was particularly pleased that Prince Harry highlighted how mental illness can leave war veterans wounded. They have to see some awful things as part of their job, which can leave permanent scars. I think it can be underestimated, and that because you are away from war, then suddenly these images leave you. But those things never leave you. It can leave individuals afraid to leave their home and can make them feel guilty for the life they have at home, after seeing such suffering whilst they have been on duty.
This was highlighted by the Invictus choir set up by choirmaster Gareth Malone. He built a choir from a group of war veterans who had a range of injuries as a result of their dedication to service. They wrote the final song themselves, which they performed at the opening ceremony, and had such raw emotion within the lyrics. Because there are so many war veterans, there is a risk of becoming just a statistic, but this programme enabled you to realise that it is so much more than that by hearing all of their stories and the personal struggle they have faced.Their final song has such meaning and emotion, that it is so worth listening to it and really thinking about the words within. (You can download the single now from Itunes.)
You can tell what it meant for them to be able to represent their country and war veterans across the globe. It was such a group effort. When Gareth sat by the piano to play them the song, he referred to it as ‘your song’ to which they replied ‘no, this is our song.’ I think that sums up the attitudes of servicemen and women across the globe, a sense of togetherness and teamwork, supporting every person, always…
I haven’t worded this quite as well as I wanted to, but I hope you get a feeling of the proudness and thankfulness I have for those who have served or country and the for all war veterans. You can catch up with the Invictus Games, to see some of the sporting highlights and the opening and closing ceremony, as well as Gareth Malone’s Invictus Choir on BBC Iplayer. For more info about the games you can visit invictusgames2016.org