A letter arrived several days ago and I've been pondering my response ever since. It seems there's a disturbance in the bureaucratic mind that discovered I never claimed the military service medal I earned fifty-three years ago.
I was a conscript, chosen by a lottery of birth dates, fulfilling my military obligations as part of the responsibilities of citizenship, and there was no measurable increase of risk to my person (unlike many others). Indeed, I rather enjoyed the interlude, even if I ended it without regret and returned to my chosen career.
I am happy as an anonymous member of our veteran's association, even if I take no part in its rituals beyond standing to attention at evening post and reciting the ode to the fallen on the occasions I am present at their club rooms for social reasons. I would feel very uncomfortable wearing the decoration, especially in the company of others who had earned it, yet my son, a professional soldier with his own fully deserved decorations, is anxious that I accept it.
If it would just come in the post, to be hidden away with the other mementos of my youth, there would be no problem, but the military likes its little ceremonies and I am threatened with one that daunts me.