Over There

Saturday, April 8, AD 2017


Something for the weekend, Over There, the anthem of the American war effort in World War I.

My friend and co-blogger Darwin Catholic at The American Catholic put together the above video, which I believe is one of the best videos I have seen on World War I.  George M. Cohan of course wrote Over There, the song which became the battle hymn of the American war effort in World War I.  George M. Cohan was immortalized by James Cagney in the 1942 film biopic Yankee Doodle Dandy.  Dying on November 5, 1942 of stomach cancer, Cohan saw the film shortly before its release in a private screening.  I do not know if the ending of the film in the clip below brought tears to his eyes, but it always does mine:

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4 Responses to Over There

  • “And we won’t come back ’til it’s over over there.”

    General Pershing was finally able to “unify” the AEF under his command and led 1,200,000 Americans in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (26 September to 11 November 1918) which beat up the Germans and helped seal the armistice. The objective was to cut the railways supplying the Hun at the front. Casualties were 120,000 KIA/WIA (10%). The actions were notable for dashing open-field tactics and liberal employment of the bayonet. Sergeant York made his name during this fight.

    Book recommendation: The Doughboys by Laurence Stallings. Pershing was highly aggressive and he demanded the same from his officers.

  • What brings tears to my eyes is the fact that US involvement in World War I insured the demise of what was left of Christian Europe. That involvement also led to a profound change for the Catholic Church in the USA as Cardinal Gibbons made a point to throw the support of the Church behind Wilson and his desire for war instead of supporting the peace efforts of the Pope as Christopher Manion and others have written about elsewhere. That lockstep of Church and State has continued to the present day when many people consider the Catholic Church the Democratic Party at Prayer.

  • “What brings tears to my eyes is the fact that US involvement in World War I insured the demise of what was left of Christian Europe.”
    How? The Bolsheviks would have come to power in any case in Russia. The German offensive in March 1918 prior to many US troops being on the ground in Europe failed, so the Central Powers were almost certainly going to lose even if the US had not intervened, although the War likely would have continued into either 1919 or 1920 with millions more dead. Viewing either Imperial Germany or Imperial Austria-Hungary as champions of Christendom in the nineteenth and twentieth century up to 1914 is simply mistaken. Both entities were fully affected by the forces that modernity was unleashing throughout Europe.

  • WW I was the most senseless, useless and in the long term, damaging war in European history. It is the root cause of everything that has gone wrong on that continent since. US involvement, while arguably necessary because of German predation on our shipping, could have been handled much differently and better. Does anyone seriously think that had Teddy Roosevelt won the election in 1912 that Germany would have dared to commit the acts of war against the US? And when we were finished joining in the destruction of Europe, we were cast aside like a used rag doll. Members of my family who stayed while the rest of the family emigrated to the US, fought on both sides of the conflict and were never heard from again. Having begun the insanity, Europe and the world would have been better served had all parties been allowed to collapse from sheer exhaustion and we could have avoided our share of responsibility for the debacle.

You’re A Grand Old Flag

Saturday, June 18, AD 2016



Something for the weekend.  You’re A Grand Old Flag sung by James Cagney in the film biopic of George M. Cohan Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942).  Cohan wrote the song in 1906 after an encounter with a Union veteran of Gettysburg who was carrying a torn American battle flag.  The old soldier smiled at Cohan and said the flag was “A grand old rag!”


I cannot have a post that mentions the film Yankee Doodle Dandy without showing the scene of Cagney as Cohan tap dancing down the White House steps.  Cagney did the scene completely impromptu.

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Glenn Miller’s Over There

Saturday, April 28, AD 2012

America means freedom and there’s no expression of freedom quite so sincere as music.

Glenn Miller

Something for the weekend.  Glenn Miller and the Army Air Corps Band give a very lively version of James M. Cohan’s Over There.  The rendition of the song is made poignant by our knowledge that Major Glenn Miller would never come back from Over There, dying on December 15, 1944 when the plane he was flying in was lost over the English Channel.  Miller, too old to be drafted at 38, was rich and famous as a band leader in 1942 and could have sat out the War in safety and comfort without reproach.  However, Miller was above all a patriot.  He first tried to join the Navy and was turned down.  He then joined the Army Air Corps, commissioned as a Captain, and was placed in command of the Army Air Corps Band.  His goal was to present music that the troops would enjoy, frequently to the dismay of senior officers who usually had little love for Big Band era music.  Miller and his Band helped raise the morale of American troops and civilians alike, not an easy task in a War as bloody as World War II, especially among Army Air Corps troops in Europe with their high casualties.  May his soul rest in peace.

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