Friday, 4 June 2010


The widow of Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid was pictured in yesterday's paper after she had received the George Cross awarded to her late husband who was killed while defusing an explosive devise in Afghanistan. He had already successfully defused 65 IEDs and was on the last day of his tour of duty when killed.

One so often hears the word "hero" used when it is really not appropriate, sportsmen are quite frequently so described, but can there really be anybody more heroic than bomb disposal men who risk their lives on a daily basis? Their courage is, to me, almost beyond belief.

I have at times pondered on the difference between a courageous act carried out instinctively and one undertaken only after knowing the full extent of the danger involved. Does an instinctive action - or reaction - really demonstrate bravery? I suppose it could be argued that a person acting bravely from instinct might well have the sort of temperament to undertake those actions even after consideration of the danger and might therefore truthfully be described as a brave person. But I have to agree with Thucydides, who was quoted by Staff Sergeant Schmid's widow, when he said, 'The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.'

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