In recent days gallons of tears have been shed and countless prayers said for Alan Henning, the big hearted Salford cabbie who was unspeakably murdered in an anonymous desert setting.
The now chillingly familiar video which brought the worst news imaginable to Alan’s family on Friday night, although sadly not a complete surprise, shocked the world. Even though three other American and British hostages had died in the same way in the weeks before Alan, his beheading defied belief because of who he was and how he had come to be in Syria before he was kidnapped.
The reason why Alan’s brutal murder has touched so many of us is that he seemed so ordinary, yet he had been compelled to do extraordinary things all in the name of compassion. He had not found himself in the planet’s most dangerous place due to him being radicalised or because he had embarked on a mighty moral crusade. He just wanted to help those in the most desperate of need and for that reason alone he was an extraordinary human being.
Alan had delivered aid and basic supplies to Syria several times before his ill-fated final visit to the war-torn country and had said that the arduous journey was made worthwhile when the cargo got where it was most needed.
The chances are that if he had not been snatched last December then the wider public would have been none-the-wiser about his extraordinary kindness. Nobody deserves to die the way that Alan did but it is important to all those who loved him that he is not remembered only for his horrific demise.
It is beyond question that the life of the 47-year-old dad will not be marked in some way but it cannot be solely the responsibility of his friends and family. It would be nice to think that he might be posthumously recognised by way of an Honour or a permanent memorial.
It is the least he deserves and would keep the public focused on his memory rather than on the fanatics responsible for his death.
Right now the public’s fury is directed at Islamic State and the suspected murderer with the comic book villain nickname. It is not an epithet I choose to use – Cowardly Masked Murderer is far more fitting.
Will this man be brought to justice? Will his final moments be captured through a cross-hair on a grainy Pentagon video? Who knows, but the one certainty is that the current US-led coalition will expend an incredible amount of energy crushing this killer and his fellow IS lunatics.
Nobody can imagine what will bring comfort to the Henning family right now but we owe it to them and Alan to keep his memory alive.