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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

By Sam Huntington


  1. That's a nice tribute. God bless those men and women who died in service to our nation.

  2. Thank you, Sam. I'm going to steal this video and put in on my web site.

    Memorial Day is a special one for me. I am a veteran of the Vietnam Era although I was stationed stateside.

    In 1968, I lost one of my best friends in the Vietnam War. We went way back as friends -- all the way to our days in 6th grade.

    Danny (enlisted in the USMC) was about 20 years old and engaged at the time of his death.

    Danny and I used to run a bicycle repair shop together in Southern California; his father co-signed the loan for the building for us.

    I was drafted about 2 years after Danny died.

    I need to go to the Vietnam War Memorial and look up Danny's name.

  3. Slightly off-topic, but sor t of relevant to the post honoring our military...

    I heard on the radio last night that a couple of women service members are suing to allow women in combat.

    Sounds like a case of "Be careful what you ask for, You just might get it" to me.

  4. Two of my dearest cousins, both volunteers as opposed to enlistees, served at Normandy. One (USA) was a clerk by land, and one (USN) came in by sea.

    Both came home uninjured -- physically, that is.

    Psychologically, they never recovered. They both died early deaths: one at the age of 39 (massive coronary) and the other at age 44 as he defended himself from an armed cheater at the poker table.

    The brother of the two mentioned above served in the Pacific and was impossible to get along with when he returned home.

    So, all three came back from dangerous fronts, and all of them took advantage of the GI Bill and got college educations, which their parents couldn't have afforded as they were farmers and barely eking by (as most small farmers do).

    But all three of my cousins had died INSIDE during the war. They refused to talk about what they saw and did during WW2 and would leave the room any time that the subject came up in conversations. And they wouldn't watch any war movies either (except for Westerns).

    The one thing that they did do every year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day: go to a nearby military cemetery and walk in silence through the lines of graves until each of them found the numerous grave(s) of their fallen comrade(s).

    Their mother used to tell me something very similar to the following: "Every day, we listened to the radio and prayed for our boys. The Lord protected them -- all three of them. But not a day went by that I didn't expect news that one of them had died in battle."

    Now, she wasn't whining. She also stated how important it was for her three boys to serve our country and how proud she was of them for volunteering instead of waiting to be drafted.


    Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
    Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
    And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
    Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

    Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling,
    Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
    And floundering like a man in fire or lime. -

    Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
    As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
    In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

    If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,

    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, -

    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori

    ~ Wilfred Owen

    Submitted by FreeThinke

  6. Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood. —George S. Patton

    War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. —John Stuart Mill

  7. Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori: it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country.

    Whatever your position of war it- whether it be right or wrong, the worst of humanity or otherwise- IMO military still need our support. Those men and woman fight to protect us and our interests- fight and often die. If not for their efforts, America would not exist. Period. And we need to take more than one day to remember it- more than one moment. They deserve more respect than that.

    Video was great, if only so we remember- remember what they do and the hell they've been through.

    I do know one military man- my cousin, who served as a second lieutenant in Iraq. He home now, alive and seemingly well- praise God. I know many don't get that. And I know many in society could care less. Maybe they should go through hell and see how it is...


    PS I know I sound preachy... I got in a mood.

  8. Great comments Wildstar and great quotes. Thank you for that!

    Thank you Sam for the inspiring video.

    Any man who went in harm's way for this country is a better man than I, and I salute them one and all.

  9. In Flanders Fields

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    ~ John MacRae

    Submitted by FreeThinke

  10. Lanarkshire Mill Pond - December 1913

    Heavy bundled sweaters dwarf the child within,
    Jaunty caps obscure each face save giant grins,
    Two cousins balance on their skates,
    Link mittened hands and pose
    Mid glide in the cold Scottish winds.

    A brilliant radiant Edwardian December,
    Proud grandfather skating backwards
    Points his new Christmas camera
    To catch young lads and carefree smiles
    Skating in the brisk Lanarkshire air.

    Six months to the day, a vast continent away:
    Mistaken chauffeur driving backwards,
    Gavrilo Princip points a borrowed pistol
    To catch minor royalty and feint-grins
    Waving in the sultry Sarajevo air.

    Heavy brutal bombardments decimate battalions,
    Once-jaunty teenagers from mill towns and crofts
    Huddle in torrid Turkish trenches, link quivering hands,
    Recall when younger joyful hands had gathered purple heather,
    “Queen daisies growing in the tall red grass…
    And bluebells tossing in transparent fields.”

    Before going over the top. Up, up
    An exposed rocky cliff in remote Gallipoli.

    ~ Kathy Sanderson Zwick (born 1941)

    “I came back with an idée fixe – never again should men be made to suffer as in these years of war.”

    (Annals, 89) Hugh MacDiarmid - 1918

    Submitted by FreeThinke

  11. A Whispered Tale

    I’d heard fool-heroes brag of where they’d been,
    With stories of the glories that they’d seen.
    But you, good simple soldier, seasoned well
    In woods and posts and crater-lines of hell,
    Who dodge remembered ‘crumps’ with wry grimace,
    Endured experience in your queer, kind face,
    Fatigues and vigils haunting nerve-strained eyes,
    And both your brothers killed to make you wise;
    You had no babbling phrases; what you said
    Was like a message from the maimed and dead.
    But memory brought the voice I knew, whose note
    Was muted when they shot you in the throat;
    And still you whisper of the war, and find
    Sour jokes for all those horrors left behind.

    ~ Siegfried Sassoon

    Submitted by FreeThinke

  12. Wildstar,
    BRILLIANT comment!

    Then, again, I do expect brilliance from you.

    I just have to say publicly that your brilliance showed at the end-of-year pageant -- in a good way, I mean.

    PS: Tap into that same brilliance when you take your final exam in Latin. I know that you CAN get an "A"!

  13. FT,
    Thank you for adding those poems.

    Of course, war is one of the necessary evils because of the state of mankind. **sigh**

  14. Mustang,
    War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.

    Sad. But true.

    PS: If I get enough students for the course "Western Civilization through Filmography," I've already determined that I will be showing the film Patton. I DO hope that I will get to teach that course! I get to design it myself.


    Well how do you do, young Willie McBride,
    Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside
    And rest for a while 'neath the warm summer sun
    I've been working all day and I'm nearly done.
    I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
    When you joined the dead heroes of nineteen-sixteen.
    I hope you died well and I hope you died clean
    Or Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene.

    Chorus :
    Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly,
    Did they sound the dead-march as they lowered you down.
    Did the bugles play the Last Post and chorus,
    Did the pipes play the 'Flooers o' the Forest'.

    And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
    In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined
    Although you died back there in nineteen-sixteen
    In that faithful heart are you ever nineteen
    Or are you a stranger without even a name
    Enclosed and forgotten behind the glass frame
    In a old photograph, torn and battered and stained
    And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame.

    The sun now it shines on the green fields of France
    The warm summer breeze makes the red poppies dance
    And look how the sun shines from under the clouds
    There's no gas, no barbed wire, there's no guns firing now
    But here in this graveyard it's still no-man's-land
    The countless white crosses stand mute in the sand
    To man's blind indifference to his fellow man
    To a whole generaation that were butchered and damned.

    Now young Willie McBride I can't help but wonder why
    Do all those who lie here know why they died
    And did they believe when they answered the cause
    Did they really believe that this war would end wars
    Well the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the pain
    The killing and dying was all done in vain
    For young Willie McBride it all happened again
    And again, and again, and again, and again.

    ~ Eric Bogle

  16. That's a terrific piece of verse, Mark. A new discovery for me. Thanks for posting it.

    I don't believe anyone who had actual experience with trench warfare ever wrote glowing reports abut how brand and glorious it was to be fighting at the front.

    A friend of a friend of mine was killed in Vietnam. The lower half of his face was blown away -- jawbone shattered, scattered to the four winds -- one of his eyes had been shot out as well. My friend witnessed his death, and reported this big, brave, strong young man lived just long enough to whimper, "Mom!" before he collapsed and expired in a pool of his own blood.

    It could never be "glorious" or "fitting" for anyone to die like that. The causes for war stopped being noble a long time ago.

    War today is mostly a profit making machine for the greedy producers of sophisticated weaponry. Patriotism has nothing to do with it anymore -- if, indeed, it ever did.

    ~ FreeThinke

  17. The following poem was written to memorialize a suicidal charge by light cavalry over open terrain by British forces in the Battle of Balaclava (Ukraine) in the Crimean War (1854-56). 247 men of the 637 in the charge were killed or wounded.

    Britain had entered the war, fought by Russia against Turkey, Britain and France, because Russia sought to control the Dardanelles. Russian control of the Dardanelles threatened British sea routes.

    Many in the West know of this war today primarily because of Florence Nightingale, who trained and led nurses aiding the wounded during the war in a manner innovative for those times. The war was also noteworthy for early examples of the work of modern war correspondents.

    The tragic Charge, however, occurred only because of the brainless, bungling of the commanding officers.

    The Charge Of The Light Brigade

    Half a league half a league,
    Half a league onward,
    All in the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred:
    'Forward, the Light Brigade!
    Charge for the guns' he said:
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

    'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
    Was there a man dismayed ?
    Not tho' the soldier knew
    Some one had blundered:
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die,
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon in front of them
    Volleyed and thundered;
    Stormed at with shot and shell,
    Boldly they rode and well,
    Into the jaws of Death,
    Into the mouth of Hell
    Rode the six hundred.

    Flashed all their sabres bare,
    Flashed as they turned in air
    Sabring the gunners there,
    Charging an army while
    All the world wondered:
    Plunged in the battery-smoke
    Right through the line they broke;
    Cossack and Russian
    Reeled from the sabre-stroke,
    Shattered & sundered.
    Then they rode back, but not
    Not the six hundred.

    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon behind them
    Volleyed and thundered;
    Stormed at with shot and shell,
    While horse and hero fell,
    They that had fought so well
    Came through the jaws of Death,
    Back from the mouth of Hell,
    All that was left of them,
    Left of six hundred.

    When can their glory fade?
    O the wild charge they made!
    All the world wondered.
    Honour the charge they made!
    Honour the Light Brigade,
    Noble six hundred!

    ~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

    The poem was written in 1854 -- the year of the event described.

    Submitted by FreeThinke


  18. FT,
    Patriotism has nothing to do with it anymore -- if, indeed, it ever did.

    Oh, I think that patriotism does have something to do with war, particularly for those who serve. And the origins of war might as well.

    I fully admit that I'm no expert in the matters of war.

  19. AOW, I certainly was not referring to the soldiers who serve when I said war is no longer about patriotism.

    I think Wildstar too might have gotten the impression that in posting Wilfred Owen I was somehow denigrating our military.

    Not at all.

    I have come to the realization that we have effectively lost every conflict in which we've participated since Word War Two, because the Money Men - the International Power Brokers -- in high places want it that way.

    Part of the reason for this is avarice on the part of the developers and manufacturers of ever more sophisticated weaponry. They reap enormous profits from pushing their products. Without an endless series of pointless "wars" there would be no need for their wicked wares.

    Another part has to do with the leftist agenda adopted as a result of the Nuremberg Trials. This Plan for the World [Dare we call it a New World Order?] was, of course, tangential to the creation of he United Nations which occurred simultaneously with Nuremberg.

    The events at Nuremberg, which seemed at first so noble, so fine, so admirable, were in truth designed to limit, balk, weaken and ultimately destroy Western Hegemony. Because of our meek, apparently blind acceptance of these post-war "ideals," we have been hamstrung, hobbled and effectively cut off at the knees.

    One look at the absurd, self-defeating "Rules of Engagement" our people are obliged to follow in mortal combat with unprincipled barbarians ought to prove my thesis.

    We fight -- not for God and country anymore -- but for greedy moguls and fiercely ambitious, self-anointed Oligarchs whose own best interests are designed to be served by manipulating us into exhausting our precious resources.

    In short since the Korean War tens of thousands of our young men (and now some women too) have been fighting an dying to ensure our country's ultimate defeat.

    THAT is what I meant when I said that patriotism has nothing to do with our war efforts any longer.

    We've been DUPED for many decades, and it's long past time we recognized it, and did whatever might be necessary to unseat the TRUE villains that threaten our lives and fortunes.

    ~ FreeThinke

  20. From the Declaration at Arbroath, also known as the Scottish Declaration of Independence:

    "We fight not for glory, nor for wealth nor honour, but only and alone for freedom, which no man surrenders but with his life."

  21. After great pain, a formal feeling comes--
    The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Toombs--
    The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
    And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

    The Feet, mechanical, go round--
    Of Ground, or Air, or Ought--
    A Wooden way
    Regardless grown,
    A Quartz contentment, like a stone--

    This is the Hour of Lead--
    Remembered, if outlived,
    As Freezing persons recollect the Snow--
    First--Chill--then Stupor--then the letting go--

    ~ Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

    Submitted by FreeThinke

  22. Let us hope the days
    Of the jerk Chris Hayes
    Are numbered

    And he may he be annoyed
    When he's soon unemployed
    And by unpaid bills encumbered.

    Vengeance belongs to God
    But it would be odd
    If Hayes died while he slumbered.

    ~ FT

  23. FT,
    Yes, vengeance belongs to God.

    But Hayes is waaaay out of line with this. Think of all the families mourning on this Memorial Day -- young families whose mothers or fathers have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  24. I wished him DEATH in my little rhyme, AOW, -- albeit with a tongue-in-cheek.

    I doubt if anyone could get more condemnatory than that about the obscene on-air performance of Mr. Hayes.

    Vengeance may belong to God, as I quoted, but frankly I'd jump out of my skin with unabashed delight if someone knocked this bastard off -- and got away with it.

    Yeah! I really would. No foolin.'

    I'm effin sick of The Tyranny of the Enemedia -- as any good, red-blooded American ought to be

    ~ FT


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