Sam Poole: Heroes should not have to wait a lifetime to be honoured

Anyone who has achieved something prestigious deserves an award before they die. And those who miss the opportunity to be honoured for their hard work makes me sad.

Tuesday, 26th April 2016, 6:00 am
George Higgins, 96, was presented with his British medals for the first time last Friday. Picture: Sarah Standing (160638-4829) PPP-160422-173706001

Last weekend we saw the fantastic story of a 96-year-old D-Day veteran being presented with his medals.

George Higgins had waited 69 years to be officially recognised for his achievement.

But to be presented with what he should have received many years ago frustrates me.

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You could argue this shouldn’t be something that bothers me, but I am a firm believer in giving credit when it is due.

I’m not implying he was never credited for his work in the Second World War, but the award itself appears to come too late.

Anyone who has served our monarch and his country is a hero. A term many dislike, but it’s true.

If someone is willing to risk their life to protect the country in which we live then they deserve to be recognised.

I totally understand people don’t do what they do to be recognised. Although, those on the front line, especially in a world war, should be commended.

George’s story is not unusual.

There are many tales of elderly people receiving medals after many years of waiting.

But what about those who were waiting and never got what they deserved?

I find it upsetting to think there are people who died holding on to the hope they would be presented with their medals but never were.

I imagine there are also some individuals who aren’t bothered about receiving medals,

Nevertheless, they should have the chance to be publicly thanked and appreciated for their efforts.

Fighting in a war isn’t the only area where people deserve to be recognised.

Service in the emergency services, voluntary sector, and the workplace are other areas in which people are honoured.

Being presented with a symbol of gratitude required hard work and determination.

Of course the nomination and decision process can take time, but that is not the point. It shouldn’t take a lifetime.

I feel many of the younger generation don’t appreciate awards in the way that previous generations did. But they really should.

Together we need to embrace what people deserve to be given.

Together we need to stand up for those who have been waiting a long time for their achievements to be recognised ensuring they receive them before it’s too late.