Memorial Day is an American holiday, but our military rarely acts unilaterally. With that in mind, it is appropriate to acknowledge the brave men and women everywhere who have died in the fight for freedom. This piece is in commemoration of a Private Kevin Elliot, and the lengths to which his friend Barry Delaney went to honor his memory back in 2009.

The images taken at the funeral capture an unusual display of grief. The dress is what catches most people’s attention. Delaney and Elliott had agreed that Delaney would wear a dress to Elliott’s funeral if he was killed in action.

And Elliot was. The Scottish soldier was killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Then, Elliott , a Black Watch infantryman, served in Helmand Province Afghanistan. On leave, he had told some of his friends that the fight against the Taliban had been harder than anyone expected, and that the area was rigged with booby-traps. He confided his fear and told them he didn’t think he’d come back alive.

 

Delaney had promised Elliott that if he died he’d wear a dress to his funeral.

“There were a few raised eyebrows, a few looks, but everyone was aware of the promise I had made Kevin.”

Images show Delaney grieving the loss of his friend. “I was bending down to ask him if he liked the dress’s colour,” he said.

“He was such a livewire, always full of energy. Every moment with Kevin was a good time, he wanted to put a smile on everyone’s face.”

Elliott had recounted the horrors of Helmand. One of his friends had stepped on a IED. Later, while retreating, he’d stopped to pick up body parts of another British soldier and carried them off the battlefield.

“He was really scared about going back. At times it seemed like he knew something was going to happen,” said Delaney.

Elliot had served in Iraq and was on a second tour in Afghanistan.  “He said it was a lot, lot worse in Afghanistan. It spooked him,” Delaney told The Guardian.

“He wanted the two tour medals. To say he had served in the two wars would have made him proud,” Delaney said. “Once he had them, it was over.”

“He didn’t blame [Gordon] Brown or the politicians, he just couldn’t see why they were there.”

Would it surprise Elliott to know we’re still there?