CS Lewis Explains Veterans Day For Us

Friday, November 11, AD 2016

 

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today 

Inscription on the memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Division at Kohima

We have made men proud of most vices, but not of cowardice. Whenever we have almost succeeded in doing so, God permits a war or an earthquake or some other calamity, and at once courage becomes so obviously lovely and important even in human eyes that all our work is undone, and there is still at least one vice of which they feel genuine shame. 

CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters

Sometimes simple questions can help illuminate great truths.   Why do we honor veterans?

Today is Veterans Day.  Ironically, many veterans will be working today as the “holiday” is mostly one solely for government workers, and most veterans in the private sector will be on the job today.  Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day and was observed to recall the ending of that conflict on November 11, 1918 and to honor the American veterans who served in it.  After World War II, veterans of World War I, many of whom had sons who served in World War II, spearheaded a move to change the name to Veterans Day to honor all Veterans.   Legislation changing the name of the holiday was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Eisenhower on May 26, 1954.  All well and good, but why do we set this day aside to honor those who have served in the military?

One veteran of World War I, CS Lewis, perhaps can help us understand why we honor veterans.  Lewis served on the Western Front as a Second Lieutenant in 1917-1918 until he was  wounded on April 15, 1918.  Lewis, the future Oxford Don, was an unlikely soldier and he wrote about his experiences in the War with humorous self-deprecation.  However, he had immense respect for those he served with, especially the enlisted men under his command, for their good humor and courage under the most appalling circumstances.  His war experiences had a vast impact on Lewis, as can be seen in his Screwtape letters, where Lewis writes about war.

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2 Responses to CS Lewis Explains Veterans Day For Us

  • Today is Veterans Day in the US, Rememberance Day in Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Australia. God bless our veterans.

    I do want to note that today, November 11, is Independence Day for the Republic of Poland. After 123 years of partition and occupation, the defeat of all the occupying powers and the armistice led to the re-establishment of the Polish nation. This is an important day for the Polish people and the Polish diaspora around the world.

Thank You

Wednesday, November 11, AD 2015

(I originally ran this post back on Veteran’s Day 2010.  I have updated it and am running it again since the passage of time renders it more urgent.)

Time is doing what the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese could not do:  vanquishing our World War II generation.  The youngest American veteran of that conflict would now be 88, and in the next fifteen years or so they will all be in eternity.  Time now to express our heartfelt gratitude for what they accomplished for the country.  They have been called the greatest generation.  I am sure that most of them would reject that title, maybe putting in a vote for the generation that won the American Revolution or the generation that fought the Civil War.  Modesty has been a hallmark of their generation.  When I was growing up in the Sixties, most of them were relatively young men in their late thirties or forties.  If you asked them about the war they would talk about it but they would rarely bring it up.  They took their service for granted as a part of their lives and nothing special.   So those of us who knew them often took it for granted too.  Uncle Chuck, he works at the Cereal Mills, and, oh yeah, he fought in the Pacific as a Marine.  Uncle Bill, he has a great sense of humor and I think he was in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered to MacArthur.  When they talked about the war it was usually some humorous anecdote, often with some self-deprecating point.  They’d talk about some of the sad stuff too, but you could tell that a lot of that was pretty painful for them, so you didn’t press them.  They were just husbands and fathers, uncles and cousins.  The fact that the janitor at the school won a silver star on Saipan, or  the mayor of the town still walked with a limp from being shot on D-Day, was just a normal part of life, like going to school or delivering papers.

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5 Responses to Thank You

  • My Great Uncle Mike fought in D Day and the Battle of the Bulge. He died in 1981. My dad told stories of the things he sent home, like German medals and marks.

    Today is also Polish Independence Day, the 97th anniversary of the resounding of the Republic. Sto Lat!

  • Greet them ever with grateful hearts.
    .
    All my WWII men have passed to glory.
    .
    I grew up with these men. When I was young, I only knew they were strong, good men who dandled their children. They didn’t speak of the war Uncle John was with the Big Red One from North Africa to the end in Germany or Czechoslovakia. Uncle Tom was with the tanks/Patton, etc. in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy up to the Po Valley. They saw way too much. The only thing I ever heard (late in life) from John was that the men wanted to get into Berlin at the end. Tom said very little. He was very kind and sort of a recluse, except with his nephews and nieces. He helped me a ton, especially with school work. He would send me letters when I was in. Of course, we didn’t know about post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • Had a brake job done this morning, and the guy next to me in the waiting room was 90 – he looked 20 years younger. Turned out he was on the USS Niblack DD-424 during WW2. We had quite a nice chat. Wonderful man. Yes, thank you all.

  • My favorite picture of my paternal grandparents is of them sitting on a sofa with the portraits of their four sons and a daughter-in-law, all in uniform, on the wall behind them. Uncle Dick, my dad Larry, Uncle Bill, Uncle Howell and his wife Aunt Florence were all Army/Army Air Corps and served in the European and North African theaters. When we were in Europe my dad made sure my brother and I visited the British air bases, Normandy beaches, Anzio, Monte Cassino, etc. and the US cemeteries from WWI and II. At family get togethers they never spoke in front of the kids of their war time experiences. That generation is gone now and I wish that I had asked more questions. Something must have sunk in because my brother and I and three cousins served in the navy. Most of Veteran’s Day we had the TV turned to Victory At Sea. We’ve seen every espisode many times, but are still in awe of the bravery and sacrifices made by that generation. This week a friend and his son stayed with us on their annual deer hunting trip. Over beer and tacos on the 10th the USMCR sgt son recounted his experiences on the Horn of Africa as part of an international force against Boko Haram and other Islamic terrorists. God bless and protect our servicemen in harms way.

The True Meaning of Veterans’ Day

Tuesday, November 11, AD 2014

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

Inscription on the memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Infantry Division at Kohima.

When I was a boy there was a middle aged man who walked with a pronounced limp around our neighborhood.  The rumor around among the kids of the neighborhood was that he wasn’t right in the head and that he was a drunk.  His face was disfigured and we kids called him gympie, although not, mercifully, to his face.  One day I remarked to my father that we called this man gympie.  My father rarely got angry, but he did on that occasion.  He told me that man was a hero.  He had served in the Army during the Korean War, had been captured by the Chinese and had been tortured by them.  They had broken his right leg repeatedly and had used branding irons on his face.  He never gave in to them and would not tell them anything but his name, rank and serial number.  By the time he was exchanged at the end of the war his health was destroyed and his mind had been shattered by his experiences.  He returned to his home town and was cared for by his parents.  The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars in town had annual collections for him to supplement his Army pension so he would never be in financial need.  By the end of this recitation I was in tears.  That day taught me the true meaning of Veterans’ Day:  service above self.

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4 Responses to The True Meaning of Veterans’ Day

  • Freedom…most definitely…is not free.

    Just the opposite of this heroic virtue we read the story of death with dignity.
    A woman who suffers from cancer teaches others the profound lesson of cowardice.

    Here’s to the brave. Women men and children who face deaths door with courage honor and true dignity. They, like the men above, are heroic in their battles. Happy Veteran’s Day and God Bless all combatant’s fighting serious illness and injustices.

  • John Basilone, “Manila John” b.1916 Raritan, N .J. d.1945 on Iwo Jima, age 21, left his bride of two months to rejoin his men and died. See archives at http://www.raritan-online.com.
    .
    The Raritan Public Library’s second floor is dedicated to memorabilia of John Basilone. It is said that footsteps may be heard on the second floor, and why not, if love might bring back the loved one?

  • I’m a day late for Veterans Day.

    Each year in November, the Canadian TV hockey personalities all wear a red poppy in remembrance of the Canadian war dead from World War I. Canada lost over 61,000 of her young men in that war.

    Veterans Day is also Independence Day in Poland. After 123 years of partition, Poland regained her freedom on November 11, 1918, 96 years ago.

  • Penguins Fan: Being Polish, I am happy to learn of Poland’s Independence Day.

Making Mock of Uniforms

Sunday, November 9, AD 2014

 Honor

 

 

A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.

John Stuart Mill

 

 

Just in time for Veterans Day!  David Masciotra at Salon has a piece that perfectly encapsulates the contempt and hate many on the left have for those who serve in our military.  The opening paragraph is a treasure trove of the pre-occupations of leftists in this country:

 

 

Put a man in uniform, preferably a white man, give him a gun, and Americans will worship him. It is a particularly childish trait, of a childlike culture, that insists on anointing all active military members and police officers as “heroes.” The rhetorical sloppiness and intellectual shallowness of affixing such a reverent label to everyone in the military or law enforcement betrays a frightening cultural streak of nationalism, chauvinism, authoritarianism and totalitarianism, but it also makes honest and serious conversations necessary for the maintenance and enhancement of a fragile democracy nearly impossible.

 

1.  Anti-white racism?  Check.

2.  Contempt for American culture?  Check.

3.  Hatred of patriotism?  Check.

4.  Paranoia about authoritarianism and/or totalitarianism for those who do not share the political views of the left?  Check.

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26 Responses to Making Mock of Uniforms

  • http://davidmasciotra.com/biography/

    He’s an admirer of Jesse Jackson, Cornell West, and Noam Chomsky, in other words he fancies the ersatz and the sinister. He’s employed as a columnist by the Indianapolis Star. The college he attended has hired this 30 year old man with no scholarly chops to teach. He seems a fine example of the articulateness that Th. Sowell’s has remarked the Anointed confuse with intelligence.

  • Ehhhh I just read his article….and it seems WAY more complicated than that. He is not saying “all soldiers/police suck”. He is not even saying patriotism is bad per se. Its just more “being a patriot and being willing to fight and die for freedom does not mean we never question US policy nor assume that every single US solider or cop is a saint”. Its about nuance, is what he is saying.

    I do take some issue with what he said about Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if we take the position that the wars had nothing to do with our freedom (which I don’t buy) fighting for Afghani and Iraqi freedom was and is worthwhile for its own sake. But the specific problems and abuses he mentioned were correct.

  • Also, I think anti-white racism is a stretch. To me, it reads more like:

    Years of subtle messages from movies, tv shows, politicians, media, and the stories we tell ourselves, combined perhaps with evolutionary instincts to favor those who look like us (white people), have conditioned us to experience biochemical reactions in our brains that make seeing a white man in uniform and with a gun less threatening at some level than someone who is not white.

  • Nah, his comment is simply reflecting the casual anti-white racism in fashion currently on the left. Additionally there is no nuance in what he wrote. The stub under the title says it all: “It’s been 70 years since we fought a war about freedom. Forced troop worship and compulsory patriotism must end.” The last justified war he can see is WW2. He then accuses the nation of imposing forced troop worship and compulsory patriotism which is an “Alice through the looking glass” departure from the reality in this country, especially for most denizens of the left in this nation, always ready to spit on the troops and ever ready to engage in hatriotism for this country.

  • I’m a white man of liberal leanings on certain issues, and I certainty don’t feel racist towards myself :). All joking aside, white male liberals seem to do just fine in liberal circles, so they are hardly an excluded group. Somewhat related, I must ask…..do you deny the argument I describe earlier, about the prevalence of, for lack of a better term, subconscious racism?

    Also, in terms of subtly, he does say that there are heroes (Or at least good guys. I disagree with his characterizations of all soldiers being victims, but that’s a far cry from calling them all brutes). When it comes to war, he seems to belong to that school that says we should only fight when our freedom and safety is more obviously at risk than it has seemed in the post World War 2 conflicts. I do disagree with his assessment, but credit must be given where it is due.

  • I am also not sure what you mean by his statement about pressuring people not to question to military/US government policy being “an ‘Alice through the looking glass’ departure from the reality in this country”. Even if liberals have cultural space to question these things, frankly, it seems like many people immediately jump down their throats for doing so. I think hes referring to the tenancy to call the questioners weak, which does really exist.

  • “All joking aside, white male liberals seem to do just fine in liberal circles, so they are hardly an excluded group.”
    Of course not. Liberals are always good about excluding themselves from their fulminations against white people. That is why Ted Kennedy was able to be a champion of busing while making certain his kids were educated at elite private schools. When it comes to race and the left in this country, the hypocrisy is a given.

    “prevalence of, for lack of a better term, subconscious racism?”

    Racism, by definition, has to be a conscious act. Accusing others of unconscious anything is a good way of making an argument without the need of providing proof to sustain it.

    “When it comes to war, he seems to belong to that school that says we should only fight when our freedom and safety is more obviously at risk than it has seemed in the post World War 2 conflicts.”

    That cannot be the argument he is making or else he would have supported our efforts post 9-11, and the efforts of such entities as Strategic Air Command during the Cold War that ensured that a Soviet nuclear first strike never was possible.

  • “Even if liberals have cultural space to question these things, frankly, it seems like many people immediately jump down their throats for doing so.”

    That is called freedom of speech. As a pro-lifer I am accustomed to having pro-aborts chime in against my arguments. I understand that most contemporary liberals tend to be very intolerant of people who hold views that differ from theirs.

    Additionally, liberals, when it comes to their anti-military stance embraced by the majority of them, have academia and the entertainment industry on their side. Consider how many money losing anti-Iraq war pictures were made by Hollywood. The idea that there is a compulsory patriotism and worship of troops stance in this country could only be argued by someone disconnected from the actual history of this nation over the past five decades.

  • Without being fully aware of what they are doing, white people step to the other side of the street, clutch their bags, etc when confronted particularity with non-white youths. I could relate at least two stories that I know of regarding African American gentlemen dressed in suits who were treated less equally than white individuals standing next to them. Being scared of things non white youths do, even when white youths do the same things? Police officers automatically being suspicious? The welfare queen myth, when instances of fraud are actually very rare, (AND the whole system is so messed up it actually punishes people for saving money or making just a tiny bit above certain thresholds)? These things are real.

  • “Without being fully aware of what they are doing, white people step to the other side of the street, clutch their bags, etc when confronted particularity with non-white youths.”

    “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved…. After all we have been through. Just to think we can’t walk down our own streets, how humiliating.”

    Jesse Jackson, November 29, 1993

  • And yet, adults and youths who try and “play the game”, experience this treatment as well. Whats more, there maybe a perception regarding youth, but 9 out of 10 times you can walk past and you would be fine. And I emphasize, a white kid in a hoddie won’t turn heads.

    We do make snap decisions without thinking about whether there is a real threat or we simply have been conditioned to perceive a threat. All we who consider ourselves “liberal” on this issue simply hold that we need to be aware of these actions and where they come from, and force ourselves to not follow (or at least question) our instincts.

  • “And yet, adults and youths who try and “play the game”, experience this treatment as well.”

    Hardly. Getting back to the military, who is going to feel threatened by a black 20 year old male who is walking down the street in Marine dress blues? Of course this is all a red herring and has nothing to do with the anti-military screed of the Salon writer. He threw in his anti-white throw away line because it is an all purpose no proof argument when leftists are decrying the broader American culture.

  • “Greet them ever with grateful hearts.”

    Was in the North Woods since Wednesday. Tramped out yesterday, Sunday.

    We sometimes meet other hunters, and less often “sneaker people” hikers, who we’ve seen exercise their divine powers to trash hunters tents and supplies b/c they regard it a mortal sin to hunt Bambi’s great-great-great-grandsons.

    We met two younger men who came out of their deer camp and of course we compared notes. When I suggested eating MRE’s rather than carrying heavier loads of real food, one man said he had had enougn MRE in the USMC. Then, he told me of his couisn (who should have been there on that hunt) was in KIA with the 101st and didn’t make it back to hunt deer ever again. That came up when I told him my son is in the 101.

    Simply stated, there is an insufficient supply of ammunition in comparison to the over-supply of liberals.

    watcher7689: Dulce Africanus inexpertis.

  • In Europe, both the Left and the Right have traditionally regarded universal conscription as the counterpart to universal suffrage. It was Léon Blum, after all, who declared that “no citizen should be denied the right, nor relieved of the responsibility, of defending the nation under arms” and always insisted on an army of “citizens in uniform.”
    It is worth recalling Rousseau’s warning, “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall. When it is necessary to march out to war, they pay troops and stay at home: when it is necessary to meet in council, they name deputies and stay at home. By reason of idleness and money, they end by having soldiers to enslave their country and representatives to sell it.”
    “Those who serve in our military have no greater say about our international policies than the rest of us.” In fact, they have rather less. The army, with its tradition of not getting involved in politics, is not known as « La grand muette » [The big mute] for nothing.

  • Before returning to the article at hand, I wish to throw out a couple of more points. First, regarding what you said about the Marine, you’d be surprised.
    Secondly, I guarantee a relatively quick search will show numerous examples of the scenarios I described.

    But on to the article. We both agree that saying there were no justified conflicts between WW2 and now is a gross exaggeration. But hatred of our country and armed forces is a lot different then naivete. And, I must reiterate, he did say individuals Were heroes. Acknowledging both is just common sense. And many liberals would disagree with his no just war since WW2 theory anyway. The whole charge of disloyalty and hatred seems both wrong and dismissive of any criticisms that might be fair.

  • In Europe, both the Left and the Right have traditionally regarded universal conscription as the counterpart to universal suffrage.

    Bully for them. Absent a general mobilization, it was only in effect in this country from March 1948 to January 1973, and at times (e.g. the year my father enlisted), draft calls were minimal. Most in the age group subject preferred to enlist rather than wait for a draft notice (something true of nearly all of our Presidential candidates born between 1926 and 1954 who served, to take one set of examples).

  • Its just more “being a patriot and being willing to fight and die for freedom does not mean we never question US policy nor assume that every single US solider or cop is a saint”.

    That is called a “strawman.” It mischaraterizes the other side to make the side he’s defending seem more reasonable. It works, which is why it’s used so much, but it’s still a fallacy which needs to be called out.

    Without being fully aware of what they are doing, white people step to the other side of the street, clutch their bags, etc when confronted particularity with non-white youths.
    A favorite actor of mine reinforced that when you search for racism, you will find it.
    Avery Brooks told a story about how a woman didn’t enter an elevator, alone, with him.
    He assumed it was because he’s black.
    Not because he’s a guy with an epic scowl that’s over six foot tall, and it’s stupid to get in an elevator alone with a guy. (Which he should know, he’s got kids.)
    Likewise, an honest reporter who is black noticed that people weren’t sitting next to his son on the bus unless there was no option.
    He got one of his son’s friends (who isn’t) to come and sit on the bus, and discovered that nobody sits next to a teenage boy on the bus unless there’s no other option.
    People avoid sitting near anybody at all if there’s an option, barring special situations.

  • People will never know how many wars and crimes are prevented by the Armed Forces and by the peace keeping officers, who are the police, by their very presence and by their very willingness to lay down their lives for their neighbor, us.
    .
    The liberals, in their arrogance, refuse to be grateful for the freedom they take for granted and the blood they refuse to acknowledge, spilled for their right to criticise and condemn.
    .
    How really sad for the liberals never to have experienced love of country.

  • Foxfier: I am studying both your and Donald McClarey’s comments.
    .
    “People avoid sitting near anybody at all if there’s an option, barring special situations.”
    .
    Excellent take down. It is called “personal space” and is included in body language and is a right of privacy. It is what our men and women in uniform fight to protect: our freedom.

  • Wall Street Journal letters to editor printed years ago:

    “Where do we find these young men? They grow here, somehow unchanged by the skeptics and cynics all around them. In an instant they make decisions of such gravity that all else seems irrelevant and minimized. How do we deserve these young men? We support them. We honor them. We remember their sacrifice. We win this war.”
    Jim Gribbel
    Freeport, Maine
    .

    “Our society worships so many false heroes, including our politicians, who get where they are by convincing us that all they care about is us, when what they really care about is themselves. Comparing our politicians and our military personnel is comparing the most selfish to the most selfless.

    .

    “It is beyond sad and tragic that, in the main, our media fail to tell the story of the real heroes in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world, who have kept us safe from various evils risking all and, sometimes, giving their lives.
    .

    “God bless the men and women of the United States Armed Forces and shame on those who don’t know who the real heroes are.”
    John L. Sorg
    McCordsville, Ind.

  • FOxtIErR: The stories you reported don’t disprove my main point, but rather exist alongside them. Yes people might be uncomfortable in the situations described, yet what I described happens as well and is fairly well documented.

    I also would argue that a strawman Argument was used about the author when he was said to hate both America and the military despite saying specifically he thought individual soldiers were heroic.

    Mary: I am a liberal AND patriotic. Whats more There are countless liberals who serve. Finally, those who critique would argue trying to make sure something is the best it,can be is a high form of love.

  • I apologize for the misspelling. Computer not being helpful.

  • I also would argue that a strawman Argument was used about the author when he was said to hate both America and the military despite saying specifically he thought individual soldiers were heroic.

    Finding individuals heroic does not rule out hating the US and the military, and in fact from what I’ve seen it’s pretty common, both sincerely and as a rhetorical defense– a variation on the “no true scotsman” but in reverse. All good traits are handed to individuals, all bad to the targeted group(s).
    So that is not a strawman, nor a mischaracterization.

    Yes people might be uncomfortable in the situations described, yet what I described happens as well and is fairly well documented.

    Correction: the accusation is leveled extremely often. Support for the issue being racial, rather than something much more basic and obvious, is rather lacking. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence against racism being involved, people still insist that they can read the hearts of those accused.

  • I apologize for the misspelling. Computer not being helpful.

    Considering the reasons and ways my name is usually misspelled, it’s a delight to run into someone who just goes “oops.” 🙂

  • Watcher 7689, are you a liberal and patriotic enough to protect the newly begotten sovereign person, our constitutional posterity from being destroyed in the womb? If you are not, you and I do not speak the same language, even your criticisms do not uplift.

  • It was Léon Blum, after all, who declared that “no citizen should be denied the right, nor relieved of the responsibility, of defending the nation under arms”…
    –Michael Paterson-Seymour

    MSP, you left out the part in which Léon Blum declared that females aren’t citizens.
    Ha ha.

A Thought for Veteran’s Day

Monday, November 11, AD 2013

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.  Inscription on the memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Division at Kohima.

When I was a boy in grade school we used to have a program in school whenever Veteran’s Day fell on a school day.  There would be a speech and three veterans, one from World War I, one from World War II and one from the Korean War, would form an honor guard.  I can’t recall any of the speeches, but I can clearly recall the faces of the veterans.  They were always the same three men, and they would stand rigidly at attention throughout the speech.  Their silent witness spoke more eloquently to me than any words could.

We honor veterans because of their willingness to die for us if need be during their military service.  All men fear death, but veterans had to put that fear aside during their period of service.  Even if they served in peace time or in a safe billet, the possibility of death, usually at a very young age was always a possibility.  This is enough of a reason to honor veterans.

Additionally, we can hope that the sacrifices that veterans make will ultimately lead to a better world.  Rossiter  Johnson in 1884 noted that while we celebrate the courage of our veterans there are other lessons to be drawn from war if we have the wit to discern them and to teach them to the young.  I think the lessons of the Civil War were learned by the nation, at least we haven’t had another such fratricidal conflict:

 

It is poor business measuring the mouldered ramparts and counting the silent guns, marking the deserted battlefields and decorating the grassy graves, unless we can learn from it some nobler lesson than to destroy.  Men write of this, as of other wars, as if the only thing necessary to be impressed upon the rising generation were the virtue of physical courage and contempt of death.  It seems to me that is the last thing we need to teach;  for since the days of John Smith in Virginia and the men of the Mayflower in Massachusetts, no generation of Americans has shown any lack of it.  From Louisburg to Petersburg-a hundred and twenty years, the full span of four generations-they have stood to their guns and been shot down in greater comparative numbers than any other race on earth.  In the war of secession there was not a State, not a county, probably not a town, between the great lakes and the gulf, that was not represented on fields where all that men could do with powder and steel was done and valor exhibited at its highest pitch…There is not the slightest necessity for lauding American bravery or impressing it upon American youth.  But there is the gravest necessity for teaching them respect for law, and reverence for human life, and regard for the rights of their fellow country-men, and all that is significant in the history of our country…These are simple lessons, yet they are not taught in a day, and some who we call educated go through life without mastering them at all.

Rossiter Johnson, Campfire and Battlefield, 1884

One can hope that some day the scourge of war will be relegated to the history books.  Until that time we honor the Veterans who were called upon once in their lives to perhaps part with life itself, if need be, for the rest of us.

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4 Responses to A Thought for Veteran’s Day

  • Today is Armistice Day. After the Second World War the commemoration was moved to the nearest Sunday and called Remembrance Sunday, and Catholic churches normally make their principal Mass a Requiem. In the last twenty years, following a campaign by the Royal British Legion, Armistice Day is also celebrated, whether it falls before or after the Sunday. Yesterday I was in Oxford for the Solemn Requiem Mass at the Oratory, and very impressive it was too. Before that there was the civic ceremony at the war memorial in St Giles’s. This has unfortunately been hi-jacked by the forces of political correctness. There was little reference to the two world wars, but much was made of the Holocaust, the right to “peaceful protest”, an end to “discrimination” and oppression, and so on and so forth. On the Saturday evening there is a “Festival of Remembrance” in the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of HM the Queen. I watched this as a boy, and it was a solemn and dignified occasion. Latterly it has degenerated into a tacky pop concert (what is it about popular “culture” that degrades and pollutes everything it comes into contact with?)

    Every year some trendy cleric comes out of the woodwork to complain about the veterans’ favourite hymns, ‘O Valiant Hearts’ and ‘I Vow to Thee, my Country’ on the grounds that they are jingoistic and glorify war. I lost no relatives in the two world wars (despite the fact that my grandfather served on the Western Front throughout the Great War and I had an uncle who flew with Bomber Command in the Second), but I want to remember those from Britain and the Commonwealth who paid the ultimate price. I don’t want lectures on “equality and diversity”. I hope to God that the USA doesn’t go down this road. I appreciate the articles on this site about American achievements on the battlefield, despite the fact that some of them were won at my country’s expense!

  • “I hope to God that the USA doesn’t go down this road. I appreciate the articles on this site about American achievements on the battlefield, despite the fact that some of them were won at my country’s expense!”

    Your generosity of spirit is appreciated John. We have similar clerics over here. I think at bottom most of them simply would never dream of putting their own precious hides at risk for anything and thus they attack better men than themselves in the guise of being anti-war, the pro-cowardice flag most of them really flying having limited appeal. John Stuart Mill had their number long ago:

    “A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.”

  • As today is Veterans Day, the banks, schools and government were closed. Nobody else – just like the now-maligned Columbus Day.

    I will go off on a brief tangent – I discovered that I have relatives in the town I live in that I have never met. They are on my mother’s side, as they share the same last name as my mom’s maiden name. As I did some additional research, I found out that there are over 3,000 people in the United Kingdom alone with my mom’s maiden name. A cousin of mine told me that we all are descended from some 14th century Scot Highlander and the clan is spread out over the entire Anglosphere – the UK (one is an Episcopal minister in Edinburgh), the US, Canada (one was an Orthodox priest in Vancouver), New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. They fought for the US and the UK in the Pacific Theater in World War 2.

    This caught my interest: http://www.warbirdforum.com/mcluckie.htm

    War will always be part of the human condition until the Second Coming. Clausewitz put it best, and I paraphrase – War is an extension of politics.

  • this is late, but – Veterans’ Day is Independence Day for Poland. November 11, 1918 is when Poland ceased to be partitioned. There was the subsequent Greater Poland uprising which drove the Germans out, who refused to leave at first. Then there was the Polish-Soviet War and the Miracle of the Vistula.

    No wonder Poland suffered such a terrible fate in 1939 that lasted for 50 years.

Veteran’s Day: Why We Remember

Sunday, November 11, AD 2012

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

Inscription on the memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Infantry Division at Kohima.

World War I was a ghastly conflict with tens of millions of men slaughtered in all the horrors that war in the industrial age was capable of mustering.  After the War which ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Veterans Day was set aside on November 11 to honor those men who had fought with courage for their country.  In our country Veteran’s Day eventually came to honor all those who had served in the military.  As Lincoln said at Gettysburg, “It is all together fitting and proper that we do this.”  Why it is important that we do that I will leave to Father Francis P. Duffy who served as a chaplain with the Fighting 69th in France in World War I.  You may read prior posts about him here and here.  Father Duffy was a man of faith and courage, so much courage that it was proposed that he be nominated for the Medal of Honor until he laughed at the idea.  His leadership skills were so valued that General Douglas MacArthur even briefly considered placing him, a chaplain, in command of the 69th, which would have been a first in American military history.  When the 69th got back to New York after the War Father Duffy wrote about its reception and why it was important to honor the men who had served, and, especially, the silent victors who remained in graves in France:

It was a deserved tribute to a body of citizen soldiers who had played such a manful part in battle for the service of the Republic. The appreciation that the country pays its war heroes is for the best interest of the State. I am not a militarist, nor keen for military glory. But as long as liberties must be defended, and oppression or aggression put down, there must always be honor paid to that spirit in men which makes them willing to die for a righteous cause. Next after reason and justice, it is the highest quality in citizens of a state.

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13 Responses to Veteran’s Day: Why We Remember

  • Your account of how General MacArthur wished to give Fr Duffy command of the 69th reminds me of another remarkable Allied chaplain.

    In 1939, Père Louis de la Trinité was Prior Provincial of the Paris Province of the Discalced Carmelites. He had served with distinction as a naval lieutenant during WWI and, as a member of the Reserve, he was recalled to the navy; members of religious congregations were not exempt from military service. After the Fall of France, he escaped to England and volunteered as a chaplain in the Free French Navy on 30 June 1940.

    Alas, such was the shortage of experienced officers that De Gaulle successfully applied to his superiors for him to take up the appointment of Chief of Staff of the Free French Naval Forces. He commanded the naval forces at the landings in Gabon and the combined operations at Dakar. Having undertaking several naval commands and diplomatic missions during the war, after the Liberation, he was sent to Indo-China as High Commissioner and Commander-in-Chief.

    In 1947, Admiral Georges Thierry d’Argenlieu, Inspector-General of Maritime Forces, retired and finally returned to his convent at Avon-Fontainebleau.

    On a personal note, in 1955 he clothed me with the scapular of the Third Order of Mount Carmel.

  • I think it is more than fitting that the Gospel reading for the Mass today is from 12:38-44 about the poor widow who gave everything she had and that today is also Veteran’s Day. A fitting coincidence.

  • As I was holding my squirming 11 month old son, it was hard to concentrate on the Gospel. I took my family (despite my wife’s reluctance) to the Pittsburgh TLM this morning. I am tired of wishy washy Masses. I do not want to hear a Marty Haugen hymn ever again.

    One other significant thing to note – today, November 11, is Independence Day in Poland. As World War I concluded with the defeat of Germany and Austria-Hungary, independence was reestablished in Poland after 123 years. Poland fought several battles against Germany to reclaim the portion of Poland that Germany continued to occupy (Greater Poland) after WWI until about March 1919.

  • I’m old enough to remember when November 11 was “Armistice Day.”

    I read (I guess it’s true) there is no living WWI veteran: faded away.

  • “I read (I guess it’s true) there is no living WWI veteran: faded away.”

    Sadly correct. The last Doughboy, Frank Woodruff Buckles died last year at 110:

    https://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/taps-for-the-last-doughboy/

  • Another Catholic fact about 11 November. It seems it’s Martinmas, the Feast of St. Martin, which is commemorated by traditions in various European countries.

    Famously, St. Martin, as a Roman soldier, cut his soldier’s cloak in two to save a beggar from freezing. Again, appropriate to the “Widow’s Mite.”

    The WWI Armistice echoed Eurpoean Martinmas traditions.

    From Wikipedia (for what that’s worth): “In many countries, including Germany, Martinmas celebrations begin at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of this eleventh day of the eleventh month. Bonfires are built, and children carry lanterns in the streets after dark, singing songs for which they are rewarded with candy.”

  • “I’m old enough to remember when November 11 was “Armistice Day.”

    Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day and was observed to recall the ending of that conflict on November 11, 1918 and to honor the American veterans who served in it. After World War II, veterans of World War I, many of whom had sons who served in World War II, spearheaded a move to change the name to Veterans Day to honor all Veterans. Legislation changing the name of the holiday was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Eisenhower on May 26, 1954.

  • “Sadly correct. The last Doughboy, Frank Woodruff Buckles died last year at 110:”

    He will be voting next year in several blue states.

  • I believe 11 November is also Gen. Patton’s birthday.

  • “He will be voting next year in several blue states.”

    Here in Blue Illinois where the graveyards always vote Democrat, I imagine he is already registered to vote in ten Chicago precincts! 🙂

  • “I believe 11 November is also Gen. Patton’s birthday.”

  • Well, well, well. a Thomas C. Joyce from Buffalo, who I assume is the Thomas C. Joyce who teaches English Lit at Canisius, the Jesuit college located there, dropped by to unleash what I assume he thought was a clever stink bomb:

    “It is good to remember that war is good. There are many many wars in the Old Testament. When Jesus spoke of turning the other cheek, he meant as an individual in limited circumstances.

    God favored many wars up until the Gospels, and Revelation is the most honored book of all and it foretells furious war.

    We need namby pamby tree huggers to stop giving sermons and get back to the kind of slap in the face esthetics that General Patton preached.

    The left favors peace as part of their misunderstanding of Jesus Ministry. Jesus came to sow dissension, not to create a generation of sissies.

    Thanks for the old fashioned salute to War! Whether these are the “End Times” or not, a war on those who defile the Temple would be a very good fight to start.”

    Ah professor, I truly hope that you are not brain dead enough to be unable to distinguish celebrating war from honoring those men who risked their lives in service of our country. I know that you are an enthusiastic supporter of President Obama. How do you balance your Peace Now! sentiments with his foreign policy? Do feel free to drop by whenever you are not too busy with your teaching duties and spreading the True Faith of liberalism among your hapless charges.

Veterans Day: John 15:13

Friday, November 11, AD 2011

“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”

Epitaph on the Memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Division at Kohima

War is a curious part of the human condition.  It is a summary of the worst that Man is capable of:  violence on a massive scale, cruelty, greed, hatred, and the magnification of every human vice.  Few of us are more “anti-war” than those who have had the misfortune to fight in one and witnessed all the folly, loss and endless pain produced by the inability of men to frequently resolve their differences without resort to the sword.  Yet, in war we also see men rise to the heights of what we are capable of at our best:  self-sacrifice, courage, love and the magnification of every human virtue.  War as the direst of human institutions is to be bitterly regretted, but we must ever pay homage to those who find themselves in this terrible maelstrom and acquit themselves with honor.

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One Response to Veterans Day: John 15:13

  • “Greet them ever with grateful hearts.” Chapter Heading, The Doughboys by Laurence Stallings

    Our soldier drove in from Fort Benning, GA (Uncles Sam’s School for Wayward Boys) at about 0400 hours this AM.

    He (CIB, airborne ranger infantry) spent 2009 in Afghanistan. It was hard year for his Mother, too. “They also serve who only sit and wait.”

    The POG’s at #OccupyFail talk about the 1%. These heroes are the 0.45% that deserve our blessings and gratitude this day and every day.

CS Lewis Explains Why We Honor Veterans

Thursday, November 11, AD 2010

 

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.  Inscription on the memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Division at Kohima.

We have made men proud of most vices, but not of cowardice. Whenever we have almost succeeded in doing so, God permits a war or an earthquake or some other calamity, and at once courage becomes so obviously lovely and important even in human eyes that all our work is undone, and there is still at least one vice of which they feel genuine shame.  CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters

Sometimes simple questions can help illuminate great truths.   Why do we honor veterans? 

 Today is Veterans Day.  Ironically, many veterans will be working today as the “holiday” is mostly one solely for government workers, and most veterans in the private sector will be on the job today.  Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day and was observed to recall the ending of that conflict on November 11, 1918 and to honor the American veterans who served in it.  After World War II, veterans of World War I, many of whom had sons who served in World War II, spearheaded a move to change the name to Veterans Day to honor all Veterans.   Legislation changing the name of the holiday was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Eisenhower on May 26, 1954.  All well and good, but why do we set this day aside to honor those who have served in the military?

One veteran of World War I, CS Lewis, perhaps can help us understand why we honor veterans.  Lewis served on the Western Front as a Second Lieutenant in 1917-1918 until he was  wounded on April 15, 1918.  Lewis, the future Oxford Don, was an unlikely soldier and he wrote about his experiences in the War with humorous self-deprecation.  However, he had immense respect for those he served with, especially the enlisted men under his command, for their good humor and courage under the most appalling circumstances.  His war experiences had a vast impact on Lewis, as can be seen in his Screwtape letters, where Lewis writes about war.

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8 Responses to CS Lewis Explains Why We Honor Veterans

  • “Greet them ever with grateful hearts.” Chapter Heading, The Doughboys, Lawrence Stallings.

    In the book is a narrative of the famous WWI “Lost Battalion.” A US Infantry attacking unit that outran its flanks and was surrounded. The German commander, in asking them to surrender stated, “We envy you.”

    Enough said.

    My son is US Army Infantry, airborne ranger, who served 2009 in AfghanIstan. He is going back in May. Some of the troops then were on their third deployments.

    His best friend served in Iraq with the Marines.

    These are the finest we breed.

    Where do we find such men? I envy THEM.

    Our retired monsegnieur pastor prays for the veterans and military at every Mass, all year. Last Sunday, one of the older vets thanked him. He said, “How could I not?”

    Bless them all.

  • This is a beautiful post Donald. Thank you.

  • Thank you David.

  • What’s with the creepy Civil War video featuring some guy celebrating the heroism of Confederate soldiers? Practically ruins the article for me. Granted, I’m prejudiced on this point, but I can’t help it. Those nasty, murderous traitors were fighting for the right to buy and sell my ancestors like cattle. Thank God they lost. And kindly don’t hold them up to me as noble heroes. I’d as soon sing the praises of the SS. And yes, I know they weren’t quite as bad as the SS. But the difference is smaller than you might think.

  • The scene Jesme is from the movie Gettysburg. The actor is Richard Jordan who portrays Brigadier General Lewis Addison Armistead who died gallantly leading his men during Pickett’s charge.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Addison_Armistead

    The scene is given additional poignancy in that the actor Richard Jordan was dying of brain cancer at the time he appeared in the film.

    The men who fought for the Confederacy did not invent negro slavery. It was an institution that was over 250 years old in what would become the United States by the time of the Civil War.

    What to do about slavery seems simple to us now. It did not appear so to most people at the time as demonstrated by this statement from Abraham Lincoln in 1854:

    This declared indifference, but, as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world; enables the enemies of free institutions with plausibility to taunt us as hypocrites; causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity; and especially because it forces so many good men among ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty, criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.

    Before proceeding, let me say that I think I have no prejudice against the Southern people. They are just what we would be in their situation. If slavery did not now exist among them, they would not introduce it. If it did now exist among us, we should not instantly give it up. This I believe of the masses, North and South. Doubtless there are individuals on both sides who would not hold slaves under any circumstances, and others who would gladly introduce slavery anew if it were out of existence. We know that some Southern men do free their slaves, go North and become tip-top Abolitionists, while some Northern ones go South and become most cruel slave masters.

    When Southern people tell us they are no more responsible for the origin of slavery than we are, I acknowledge the fact. When it is said that the institution exists and that it is very difficult to get rid of it in any satisfactory way, I can understand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them for not doing what I should not know how to do myself. If all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do as to the existing institution. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves and send them to Liberia, to their own native land. But a moment’s reflection would convince me that whatever of high hope (as I think there is) there may be in this in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible. If they were all landed there in a day, they would all perish in the next ten days, and there are not surplus shipping and surplus money enough to carry them there in many times ten days. What then? Free them all and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite certain that this betters their condition? I think I would not hold one in slavery, at any rate; yet the point is not clear enough for me to denounce people upon.

    What next? Free them and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this, and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white peoples will not. Whether this feeling accords with justice and sound judgment is not the sole question, if, indeed, it is any part of it. A universal feeling, whether well- or ill-founded, cannot be safely disregarded. We cannot, then, make them equals. It does seem to me that systems of gradual emancipation might be adopted; but for their tardiness in this, I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the South.

    When they remind us of their constitutional rights, I acknowledge them not grudgingly but fully and fairly; and I would give them any legislation for the reclaiming of their fugitives which should not, in its stringency, be more likely to carry a free man into slavery than our ordinary criminal laws are to hang an innocent one.”

    It was the inability of both the North and the South to remove the stain of slavery peacefully from the land that led to the Civil War. Lincoln viewed the war as the punishment of God for this and I agree with him:

    “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope–fervently do we pray–that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.”

    The men who fought in the ranks of the Confederacy were not Nazis. They were men fighting for the freedom of their people to rule themselves. Tragically this included the right to continue the centuries old institution of black slavery. It took the worst war in our history to end that institution and to preserve the Union and it is a very good thing in my mind that the Confederacy lost. However, that fact does not negate that most Confederates fought gallantly for a cause they thought right, just as did their Union opponents, which of course includes their black Union opponents.

    Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the Union officer featured in the first video clip understood this. He was an ardent foe of both slavery and secession, but he had great respect for the valor of the Confederates he fought. He was chosen to oversee the Confederates as they marched out to surrender at Appomatox. As the Confederates passed by, Chamberlain ordered a salute to them by the Union troops. He explained why he did this:

    “I resolved to mark it by some token of recognition, which could be no other than a salute of arms. Well aware of the responsibility assumed, and of the criticisms that would follow, as the sequel proved, nothing of that kind could move me in the least. The act could be defended, if needful, by the suggestion that such a salute was not to the cause for which the flag of the Confederacy stood, but to its going down before the flag of the Union. My main reason, however, was one for which I sought no authority nor asked forgiveness. Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond;–was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured?”

    http://www.jenniferboylan.net/2009/08/06/the-passing-of-the-armies-by-joshua-lawrence-chamberlain/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joshua_Chamberlain

    The great lesson of the Civil War is that we are one people, North and South, black and white, and when I study that period in our history I always attempt to remember that fact.

  • Donald, thank you for those beautiful words. A better explanation of the complexity of Confederate character and motivations I’ve never read.

  • Thank you Lori! My heart is always with the boys in blue, but I seek to do justice to my fellow countrymen who bravely wore the gray.

Veterans Day 2008

Tuesday, November 11, AD 2008

veterans_day

Lord Jesus, Mighty Warrior and Prince of Peace, through the intercession of St. Michael and Our Lady of Victory, we pray for the protection of our loved ones called to serve in time of war. By Your grace, o Lord, may they be strong and of good courage. And by your grace also, may we at home renounce all fear and anxiety, place our trust fully in your most Merciful Heart, and await in hope. For though we may walk through the shadow of the Valley of death, we shall fear no evil- You are with us.Grant a decisive and just end to this war, lasting peace for all nations, and the safe return home of all our loved ones. AMEN. (CatholicMil.org)

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Lest We Forget

Tuesday, November 11, AD 2008

gkcmarines

TO THE UNKNOWN WARRIOR
by G.K.Chesterton

You whom the kings saluted; who refused not
The one great pleasure of ignoble days,
Fame without name and glory without gossip,
Whom no biographer befouls with praise.
Who said of you “Defeated”? In the darkness
The dug-out where the limelight never comes,
Nor the big drum of Barnum’s show can shatter
That vibrant stillness after all the drums.

Though the time comes when every Yankee circus
Can use our soldiers for its sandwich-men,
When those that pay the piper call the tune,
You will not dance. You will not move again.

You will not march for Fatty Arbuckle,
Though he have yet a favourable press,
Tender as San Francisco to St. Francis
Or all the angels of Los Angeles.

They shall not storm the last unfallen fortress,
The lonely castle where uncowed and free,
Dwells the unknown and undefeated warrior
That did alone defeat Publicity.

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4 Responses to Lest We Forget