Silent Salute to the Fallen in Small British Town

Hidden on page 8 of yesterday’s New York Times was a touching story of a small British town where honoring fallen soldiers is a very tangible, poignant affair.

The town of Wooton Bassett is located near Lyneham Royal Air Force Base, where slain soldiers of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are brought home (though Britain pulled out of Iraq in April). Two years ago, when a hearse carrying a soldier drove through town, “an elderly man stood silent and alone by the side of the road, saluting as the coffin went by.”

Others in the town took note, and repeated the practice the next time a hearse came through. And the next. And now, virtually the entire town steps onto the street, stands straight, and either salutes or stands in silent respect as the hearse passes down Main Street. Then they go back to work. There is no pomp, no signs or stickers, just a moment’s respect and the toll of a churchbell.