It was heartbreaking to see visuals on Friday of the Coonoor crash families pay their last respects to the bravehearts who lost their lives earlier this week. The daughters of General Bipin Rawat and Brigadier LS Lidder, both of whom were killed along with 10 other defence personnel, when a chopper came down in a Tamil Nadu forest December 8, bade them a tearful farewell during their last rites in the national capital.
13 people, including India’s Chief of Defence Staff General Rawat and his wife Madhulika, died after a military helicopter crashed in the Nilgiri hills. Group Captain Varun Singh is the sole survivor of the fatal accident and is presently on life support. Confirmation of the deaths was given the same day by the Indian Air Force (IAF); more here.
Moving videos of the young girls and wives saluting those deceased and touching their coffins a final time, show that being in the army is not the only requisite to making eternal courage and grace a way of life. These girls stood tall at the coffins of their fathers, and in the case of Kritika and Tarini Rawat, their mother too, poised in their memories.
“My father was a hero, my best friend,” the 17-year-old daughter of Brig Lidder, Aashna, said. “We will go ahead with happy memories… Maybe it was destined and better things will come our way. He was my biggest motivator.”
Geetika Lidder, meanwhile, recognising herself as a “soldier’s wife” took the lead when she said that the nation should give the deceased army personnel a “smiling send-off.”
Coonoor Crash Families Teach Nation The Meaning Of Pride
India sleeps in peace knowing its armed forces are at the borders, keeping the country safe. The men and women in uniform who keep the tricolour above all know no fear of death and every word said in grace for that kind of sacrifice falls short. It’s built of emotions, is beyond selfless and cannot find expression in the faculties of language we presently have.
The only way that sacrifice does find expression is through the families of our army personnel who have to be as, if not more, valiant as their sons and daughters and husbands defending the homeland. The valour of the armed forces is mirrored in their kin living fearlessly, despite knowing that they could lose their loved one any moment, any day.
But they know too that the country’s position is above all for the men and women who have given themselves into service for it. Which is where Geetika Lidder’s proclamation of her proud status as a “soldier’s wife” explains itself.
The grief of losing a parent or husband perhaps inevitably comes to most people when natural illnesses or old age lay claim to lives. That is a tragedy, yes, and so is death when it comes unannounced and untimely and violently.
The endurance to deal with the massive loss it incurs is not an element everyone can claim to have. The families of our armed forces are the rare breed that can, as they have proved for years, with honour intact. A salute to the bravehearts we lost and their brave-hearted families!
Views expressed are the author’s own.