Veteran’s Day

The True Meaning of Veterans’ Day

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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Making Mock of Uniforms

 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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

A Thought for Veteran’s Day

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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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Veteran’s Day: Why We Remember

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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. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Veterans Day: John 15:13

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“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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

CS Lewis Explains Why We Honor Veterans

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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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Veterans Day 2008

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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)

Lest We Forget

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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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