Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: We salute tragic soldier's parents

It is sometimes easy to forget that behind every one of the brave soldiers risking their lives in Afghanistan or some other world trouble-spot there is a family waiting and worrying and wondering if that soldier will return home.

For some, one day will come the fateful knock at the door with the news that another young man has died. That family will never see their son alive again and news of the tragic death will soon be overtaken by another.

One family who underwent that trauma came from Bangor in Co Down. To compound their agony Ranger David Dalzell was shot dead by his best friend while on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan. It was a horrible accident. The other soldier had forgotten to remove the magazine from his rifle while testing it.

To lose a son fighting a known enemy is bad enough, but his death must have seemed so pointless to his parents given the nature of the incident.

Yet David's parents, Gordon and Susan, showed incredible strength of character and generosity towards the young man who accidentally killed their son.

They told an inquest that they had met him, forgiven him and hoped that he could continue his military career. That was an astonishing gesture considering their loss.

That David was a much-loved son is beyond question. So too is the fact that in his short life - he was just 20 when he died - he was fortunate to have remarkable parents.

They have borne their loss with fortitude and a lack of rancour. That cannot have been easy. How many of us would have acted in the same manner? Would we not have sought some retribution for the death of a son, even if it was an accident? Could we have forgiven the soldier responsible?

Hand on heart many of us would probably answer no to the above questions, but Mr and Mrs Dalzell have shown much finer character.

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