Lise Hand: Poignant final visit to overseas troops for a wistful McAleese
Published 17/10/2011 | 05:00
In a hushed grove shaded by tall trees on a hillside in south Lebanon, the President stood motionless before a black marble monolith commemorating the Irish peacekeepers who had died in the service of UNIFIL.
Minutes earlier, the names of the 47 soldiers who had lost their lives had been read out in a poignant roll-call as a bagpiper played a quiet lament. Then President McAleese stepped forward, placed a wreath in front of the monument which was flanked by a guard of honour and then stood stock-still for a minute's silence.
It was a quietly moving interlude -- despite her stillness, there was an expression of intense concentration on the face of Mary McAleese, a sense that she was committing to memory the sights and sounds of the last time, which as commander-in-chief of the Defence Forces, she would honour our war dead.