We live in an era where Islamic terrorism is becoming the norm. Each time we hear of a new attack, it feels a little less shocking and a little more expected. This fact, however, does not downplay the level of anger and sorrow that we experience each time.
I’m not one to light commemoration candles. I’m not one to change my Facebook profile picture after each attack, either. You could say I consider this futile, in a way. I want action, instead. I want us to talk about the uncomfortable issues and do something to make this stop. This doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t think we should keep the memory alive of the fallen we’ve lost along the way.
The Murder of Lee Rigby
The brutal murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby on 22nd May 2013, in Woolwich, London, was the attack, out of them all, that hit me right in the stomach. It’s a strange concept, perhaps, when we consider the extremely high number of victims we’ve had in other attacks; but this one really got to me for some reason.
Lee was 25 when he was murdered, and the level of brutality in how he was killed shocked people across the world. Lee was off duty, near his barracks in Woolwich, when he was purposely mowed down by a car which was driven by two Nigerian descent, Muslim men. As he lay on the floor, the two men approached him. Using knives and a cleaver; they stabbed him, and hacked away at him, and attempted to decapitate him, until he was dead.
Lee died of “multiple incised wounds”.
The killers; Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, were two Nigerian descent, ex-Christians who had converted to Islam. They were both sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder.
Several thousand people attended Lee’s funeral at Bury Parish Church on 12th July 2013; including then Prime Minister; David Cameron, and then Mayor of London; Boris Johnson.
Who Was Lee Rigby?
Manchester born Lee was a drummer and machine-gunner in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. He served in Cyprus, Germany and Afghanistan; where his duties found him at Helmand Province during one of the most aggressive periods of the 12-year-long conflict. Lee then moved on to become a recruiter, and he also assisted with duties at the Tower of London.
Those who served with Lee, said that he was “an extremely popular and witty soldier” and “a cheeky and humorous man”. Lee was also a passionate Manchester United fan. He would often brag to his comrades about how they would soon win the league again.
Lee was a firm supporter of Help for Heroes; a charity which aims to provide lifelong support to Service Personnel and Veterans who have picked up illnesses and injuries while serving in the British Armed Forces. Lee was actually wearing a Help for Heroes hoodie the moment he was attacked.
Lee left behind a two-year-old son (Jack) and a new fiancé. The statement from his family, following news of his death, claimed:
“Lee was lovely. He would do anything for anybody and he always looked after his sisters and always protected them. He took a ‘big brother’ role with everyone.”
“All he wanted to do from when he was a little boy, was be in the Army. He wanted to live life and enjoy himself. His family meant everything to him.”
“Lee was a normal, loving young man in the Army who had the terrible misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’d like to use my son’s name for good. No-one should have to go through what my family has suffered. I still miss Lee and suffer his loss as acutely as the day he died, but I’m hoping that, by building a legacy for him, it will help me to heal in some small way.”
Established in his name; The Lee Rigby Foundation is a charity which has been set up to support people who are suffering from bereavement or loss. They have a website and a Twitter account if you would like to find out more.
In memory of Fusilier Lee Rigby, 4th July 1987 – 22nd May 2013.