Subject: WHEN A VICTORIA CROSS WINNER HAS TO CROSS THE ROAD
WHEN THE VICTORIA CROSS WINNER HAS TO CROSS THE ROAD Excerpts from the book “Toward Resurgent India ” written by Lt Gen( Retired ) M M Lakhera — Freedom First – August 2009
I had gone to UK as Dy Leader of Indian Delegation to take part in 50th Anniversary Celebrations of victory in Europe during Second World War.
I along with four other army officers had just stepped out after attending the inaugural session and were waiting on the roadside for the traffic to ease so as to walk across the road to the vehicle park. Among those with me was Honorary Captain Umrao Singh, a Victoria Cross Winner.
We were all in our ceremonial Indian Army uniform.
All of a sudden a car moving on the road came to a screeching halt in front of us and a well dressed gentleman stepped out.
He approached Umrao Singh and said, “Sir, may I have the privilege to shake hands with the Victoria Cross winner?” He shook hands with him. Evidently he had spotted Umraio Singh’s medal from the car and had stopped his car to pay his respect to a winner of highest gallantry medal of his country.
Then he looked at me and said, “General, you are from the Indian army.” When I replied in affirmative, he gave out his name saying that he was Michael Haseltine.
I was absolutely astounded as the recognition dawned on me that he was the Dy Prime Minister of UK . I was totally overawed by the courtesy shown by a dignitary of second highest status in the British Government and humbly thanked him for having invited our delegation to the VE day function.
Again his reply was typical of his sagacity, “ Sir, it is We, the British who should be grateful to your Country and to your Armed Forces, who had helped us win both the first and second world wars. How can we ever be so ungrateful to forget your country’s great contribution?
Suddenly I became conscious that all the traffic behind his car had come to a standstill.
I hurried to thank him and politely requested to move along to relieve the traffic hold-up, although there was no honking !
He stated, “Sir, How dare I drive off when the Victoria Cross has to cross the road. I shall hold the traffic.”
Respecting his earnest feeling, I and my colleagues quickly crossed the road. Reaching the other side I looked back and saw that Mr. Heseltine was still standing for the Victoria Cross to be safely across. He and the traffic moved on only after we waved them off with a salute.
That is the type of regard they have for their decorated soldiers. Most of the civilized country do.
I have always aspired that similar respect could be shown to our military heroes – at least Param Vir Chakra or Ashok Chakra winners – by the leaders and citizens of our country.
परोपकाराय फलन्ति वृक्षा: परोपकाराय वहन्ति नद्यः।
परोपकाराय दुहन्ति गावः परोपकाराय इदं शरीरम्।
( hari krishnamurthy K. HARIHARAN)"
” When people hurt you Over and Over think of them as Sand paper.
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