As often happens, yesterday the eyes of the world were on Portsmouth as the city did itself proud by doing the right thing.
This week, The News carried a front page explaining that hundreds of people would be attending the funeral of James ‘Jimmy’ McConnell, a former Marine who died in a Southsea care home with no known family.
An appeal on internet social networks was sent out and military organisations spread the word so that Jimmy would not be laid to rest with no mourners present.
And yesterday, crowds came along to pay their respects. But it wasn’t just the ex-services groups which came out – there were dozens of non-affiliated people there, just keen to make sure Jimmy was given the send-off he deserved, and the story was duly reported not just by news organisations locally, but across the country and indeed in some cases internationally.
As the Rev Bob Mason said, it was a remarkable showing and illustrates several points.
Firstly, as has been seen several times in other cases, such as the night when social networks lit up with people helping to find missing Alex Batchelor last week, it is clear that Twitter, Facebook and the like are extremely powerful tools and their influence is spreading far beyond teenagers.
Secondly, although we don’t need to remind anyone of this point, it shows both the spirit of the people in this part of Hampshire and also the strong bond that the armed forces share with this area.
Reading a couple of pages on from the coverage of the moving funeral ceremony, you will see the latest of our features on reservists.
The large numbers of people who join up to any of the reserve forces, be it the Territorial Army or the naval reserves, from this area is an indication of the fierce pride that people have for the military here.
In the wrong hands this pride could manifest itself as tub-thumping. But, as shown by the turnout for Jimmy McConnell, it is more likely to be of a dignified, compassionate and generous nature. And as such, it should be applauded.