Britain Remembers Iraq Conflict
By Jennifer Glasse
09 October 2009
Britain remembered the soldiers and servicemen who served in Iraq at a ceremony in London's St Paul's Cathedral formally marking the end of British military involvement in the Mideast country.
Beneath the great dome of London's St. Paul's Cathedral, the British Royal Family, present and past prime ministers, senior military officials , and 2,000 others, including servicemen and women and the familes of those who died gathered to remember the war in Iraq.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams spoke about the divisions the Iraq war created.
"Conflict in Iraq will for a long time yet exercise the historians, the moralists, the international experts," he noted. "In a world as complicated as ours has become, it would be a very rash person who would feel able to say without hesitation this was absolutely the right or the wrong thing to do, the right or the wrong place to be," he said.
Williams praised the military, saying their actions in Iraq reflected on the whole nation.
"The moral credibility in any country engaged in war depends a lot less on the rhetoric of politicians and commentators than on the capacity of every serving soldier to discharge these responsibilities with integrity and intelligence," he added.
The Archbishop spoke of the sacrifice of the forces and their families. 179 Britons died in the conflict. Williams says it is the service of the armed forces that allows politicians to debate and make decisions.
"This was a conflict where some of the highest level questions were unusually hard and sharply argued over but everyone has had their share of the tough challenges," he said. "The responsibility of those in front lines remained and remains the same, sustaining the climate of mutual trust and confidence that allows decisions to be implemented effectively," he said.
Lance Corporal Rory McKenzie lost a leg fighting in Iraq, he said a prayer during the service and is hoping the service will give him some peace.
"It's very very special. I hope to get some form of closure from Iraq and possibly my injury and move on from there," he said.
The head of Britain's armed forces, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, led the congregation in a final prayer.
"We pledge ourselves to serve you and all people, in the cause of peace, for the relief of want and suffering and for the praise of your name," he vowed.
The Iraq conflict may be over for Britain, but more than 100,000 American troops remain. All U.S. troops are due to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.
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