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ABC News Editor's Notebook: Britain's Emotional Reception for War Dead

Editor's Notebook: Britain's Emotional Reception for War Dead
Haunting Scene as British Casualties Pass Through Wootton Bassett
By Tom Nagorski, Managing Editor | ABC News

In Britain last Wednesday, the papers carried mostly unremarkable fare: the latest on the Russian spy story, a shakeup in British sentencing policies, the Queen's visit to Canada , Scotsman Andy Murray's run at Wimbledon. It was a beautiful summer morning in London, unseasonably warm, hardly a cloud in the sky. I was finishing my breakfast, and finishing the papers, when my eye found an image as arresting as any I'd seen in a while.

The photograph showed a procession of black cars making its way down a narrow street, police officers and soldiers saluting the cars, people on either side lined six deep or so, nearly every one of them standing at attention. The Union Jack was visible in the backs of the cars – the last clue, if you needed one, of what you were looking at. The picture struck me as a particularly compelling portrait of war, and loss.

Seven men had come home in coffins that morning, flown on a Royal Air Force plane from Afghanistan to the RAF base at Lyneham. Then, as has been the custom in Great Britain, a cortege had carried the men past throngs of mourners, a slow and profoundly moving procession that would bring the servicemen to their final resting place. The photograph had been taken in Wootton Bassett, a small market town in northern England where thousands of people had come to pay tribute. Read more.

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