“Look at me,” said my eldest brother Peter as he raced around the room with a false leg, “I’m in a three-legged race.” And all the family laughed including Uncle Harold, to whom the leg belonged. He’d had his real one blown off in Tripoli.
This happened before I was born but the anecdote was passed down to me and kept in the family ever since. I never knew my Uncle Harold but my mother told me he was a fine man, tall, handsome and witty. She also said he was intelligent and could write the most beautiful prose and when she died I could have them to safely keep – I would be the curator of the family heirlooms.
This morning when the nation fell silent to remember, I took out the letters from Uncle Harold to my mother, crafted neat and poignant.
“I long to be home with you my little sister,” he wrote, “look deep into your watery eyes and dry them because I do not want you to cry for me.”
Though I never knew my Uncle Harold I’m proud to be his nephew, proud of the fight he fought, proud of his talents and proud of his ability to joke about his sacrifice. “I marched into Tripoli,” he said, “and limped out of it.”