British Town Honors War Dead With Silent Farewells

Impromptu silence as soldier's hearse passed grew into tradition
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2009 4:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – A lone man's silent salute to a military hearse grew into a tradition that now involves thousands who line the streets of a small British town, the New York Times reports. The bodies of UK troops killed in Afghanistan pass through Wootton Bassett on the way from the nearby air base to a military morgue, and the entire town falls silent to pay tribute as the hearses pass.

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Villagers say the displays of respect, which include many military veterans, grew naturally after the first man's salute. They insist they're just doing what anybody else would do. A Royal Air Force veteran said battalions returning from war are given parades welcoming them home. “But these lads have nothing,” he said. “This is their parade.” (Read more Britain stories.)

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