Standard Bearers

When I was very little mom used to sing a song about standard bearers.  Note the colors were different, since she wasn’t talking about the US.  It went like this, loosely translated:

Soldier in combat
If you see the standard bearer
Fall with the flag in his hands
Pick it up and raise it
A red and green rag
And you hold the country in your hands.

That always gave me chills, even when I was too young to understand the real significance, even when I didn’t know what a standard bearer was, or a war was and only knew the country was something to do with ancestors and dad was very proud of it.

Weirdly, though my allegiance to that country (which was never amazingly strong and was mostly an allegiance to dad who had an allegiance to the country is gone, and my flag is a completely different color, (well, one of them), the feeling remains, and the chill as I hear that song.

I could make a cheap comment about all of us being soldiers in combat in the culture war, but I wont.  Sure, I stuck my neck out and potentially lost the possibility of a normal traditional career.  Sure, someone could come for me eventually.  But those deaths are unlikely to be a death in combat.

It takes a special kind of courage to face death in combat and do it anyway.

And today we honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

70 responses to “Standard Bearers

  1. In combat you run towards the gun fire.

    • Some of us are broken and run towards what scares us shitless. It’s just the way we’re put together.

      • rawlenyanzi

        Some of us are broken and run towards what scares us shitless. It’s just the way we’re put together.

        That is what’s known as “courage.”

    • Patrick Chester

      My mentality seems to be “go around and shoot them in the back” which makes me wonder about myself. 😮

      • Highlander

        You can be in my squad.

        • Patrick Chester

          You sure? Years ago I took one of those silly internet quizzes with the topic “What sort of weapon are you?” and from the other results they could range from various melee types to firearms.

          I got Air Strike and retook it and got Orbital Laser. 😉

      • “No one ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” — G.S. Patton Jr.

      • To everything there is a season, and a MOS for every purpose under heaven 😀 You sneak around in back and get ’em to panic, so they run through my kill zone. I’ll be the sniper who looks just like an open window in a tall building. No not that one, the other one.

        • Meanwhile, I’ll be “performing the first task of an Army; to find, know, and never lose the enemy.”

        • Sword Art Online. You need to watch it. You will fall in love with Main Girl in season 3.

          • Just skip season 2 though. Ugh.

            • I like it all,but folks seem to randomly dislike this or that season. *shrug* Maybe folks who hate season one should watch 2 and 3!

          • I’ll check it out…while I wait for Log Horizon to get its act together 😀 Or someone to greenlight the second season of Overlord.

          • Wha?!? There’s a Season 3? I’m still waiting for them to offer Seasons 1 & 2 at prices I can consider reasonable.

            • http://www.hulu.com/grid/sword-art-online?categories=subtitled

              I suggest subbed, but Hulu also has dubbed.
              I know most of us hear have that brain-thing where we eventually forget if we read a thing or heard it. 😀

              • Ah, well, Hulu. Being determinedly antediluvian I do not accede to the demands of watching streaming video. Even Youtube is almost to much.

                Eventually, no doubt, they will drag me, clawing, kicking and screaming, into such infernal affairs, but I do not intend to go without a fight.

                If the Good Lord had wanted us to stream video He wouldn’t have given us Cable.

              • Season 3 – the Bullet of Bullets arc? (which I think should have been Ballet of Bullets, but…)

                • Would that be the “Killer Gun” story arc? First half of Season 2, per IMDb.

                  IMDb also lists:
                  Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale (2017)
                  Gekijo-ban Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale (original title)
                  This movie takes place in-between Mother’s Rosario and the latest Alicization publication, and is an original story. The movie will maintain the focus on Kirito and Asuna’s relationship but it will also highlight some other characters as well.

                • Don’t know– every search for it I find has a big WARNING, SPOILERS thing across it. 😀

                  • So, not Sinon, GGO, we’re talking a legit season 3. Season 2 is the Phantom Bullet arc, and Season 3 would be… Alicization. COOL.

                    • No, Sinon sounds like it’s exactly what I think she’d love.

                    • I suspect the confusion may stem from SAO appearing to have a 12-episode story arc / season. Thus Season One would the arc titled Aincrad (episodes 1-12) and Season Two would be the Fairy Dance (shown in USA as SAO Season 1) then Phantom Bullet (Gun Gale Online) runs 14 episodes, switching over to the Thrymheim storyline ending with Mother’s Rosario for “two seasons” that were released in USA as SAO Season 2.

                      A mite confusing, no doubt. This seems to follow the timeline of the Manga, but as I haven’t read them any opinion must be discounted.

                    • Added to my not seeing it on TV, but on demand, so I group it by “storyline”, and that I am horri-bad at names.

            • http://www.hulu.com/grid/sword-art-online-ii?categories=subtitled

              It looks like what my husband’s source classes as the second arc is in season one, and then there’s “Sword Art Online II” for the reason I brought it up in the first place.

              For folks going “oh, it’s on Hulu?”– It WILL act like you have to join to watch. You don’t. Small writing to the right of the WATCH XYZ EPS WITH PAID HULU it says the exact same number with a free account.

              Also available on netflix, and I think two of the Anime streaming services.

      • That’s called “flanking.” Always been a standard tactic.

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Being the Standard Bearer takes special courage as you have made yourself a visible target for the enemy.

    Let’s remember those who put themselves in “harm’s way” for the sake of freedom. 😀

    • In the Civil War the standard bearer had a big shoot me sign in his hands. OTOH Arthur MacArthur, Jr.carried the Regimental Flag to the summit in the Battle of Missionary Ridge and became a Lieutenant General.

      • You don’t want to shoot the standard-bearer, he has his hands full with the flag and inst carrying a weapon. There weren’t many bullets with a standard-bearer’s name on them, but the average Civil War battlefield had more than a few bullets labeled “resident”.

  3. rawlenyanzi

    I wrote a little tribute post of my own.

  4. Highlander

    Was in an airport a bit after 9-11 and was engaged by a woman who asserted that social workers and community activists and university professors were just as much heroes as cops and firefighters and Marines. And that, by recognizing the military, were being derogatory to those who deserved the same acclaim.

    The guy with me figuratively took her head off. She was vastly offended and, I believe, had no idea why we didn’t agree with her. At one point, I thought she might call security because we simply had to see it her way.

    And running to gunfire is not always the best option. Slithering will sometimes do it.

    • Free-range Oyster

      Sometimes you have to run away get some distance: most artillery has a minimum effective range.

      • Randy Wilde

        Not to mention you should at least try to be outside the blast radius.

        • Stories go, don’t know how true, that if you fired the MK-45 torpedo at max range, did a 180 and went to ahead flank, that you’d be outside the kill radius when it detonated. Maybe.

          • you would not have been out of the blast range.
            so says the (former) Torpedomans Mate 2nd class

    • Some arguments are so absurd as to defy rebuttal, their proponents having demonstrated an utter incapacity for logic. Such people are often immune to mockery and embarrassment as well, convinced they are more enlightened than thou.

      Socrates has given us the method for drawing out the entrails discussing their ideas with such people.

      Would America be vastly different if we funded no social workers, no community activists, no professors? Certes, they are risking their lives who go into the slums and advise the inhabitants there of better ways to guilt the state into giving them more stuff. And it is sure that without police the slums would be indistinguishable from the rest of America.

      And tenured professors who force college students to think have long been at risk of unpleasantness. So next time the riots start, send in the professors and let the National Guard learn from their example.

      On that day when the towers fell it was not community activists whose lives were extinguished rescuing their fellow citizens, nor, for that matter, were it our colleges and universities the targets.

      There are some arguments made so inane, so out of touch with reality that there can be no rational response. Sometimes you have to just pat the person on the head, smile benignly and tell them you hope they enjoy the weather in their world. Some people are children regardless of how many years they’ve lived.

      • I’d say teens – in their early teen years – sometimes seems to be the most common intellectual and emotional age around. At least they are the loudest. 😀

        They might still be a minority, actual adults can get too wrapped up in being productive while the teen types are way more interested in being noticed so since they also then do get noticed they might give the impression of being far more numerous than they actually are.

        One can hope anyway.

      • Highlander

        My gut feel, with her and in other such tantrums, was that her position was that anyone who did anything for anybody else … or an especially good thing for themselves … deserved the same accolades. There is no granulation in such an argument, no filtering, no distinction.

        In some circles, it seems that giving everybody on every team an identical trophy at the end of the season is evolving to giving the clerk at DMV the same Congressional Medal of Honor as one who earned it in combat and who was awarded it posthumously.

      • Drawing out their entrails. Yes! I have several people on that list.

    • Sometimes you just have to start the rebuttal with, “You can’t possibly actually believe that. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard anyone say!”

      • Highlander

        In that case, my friend said that…and more. Her response seemed to center on something like, “I have my opinion and you must agree with it. To disagree is to be offensive and non-inclusive. Plus you just can’t let the military get all the kudos when equally valiant civil servants don’t.”

        Inane? Near insane? Yes. But a true believer, she was. One of a large, agressive tribe.

        • Then the response should have been, “I take back what I said about your first statement being the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. What you just said is even stupider!” You can’t engage them on their terms, since their terms are insane. You just have to mock them and laugh at them. They always want to be taken seriously. Laughing at them and treating them as fundamentally not worth serious consideration is the most devastating thing you can do to them.

          They used to tell me that I was being condescending to them. I always responded, “Of course I’m being condescending! It’s the only way I can talk to you.” Of course then I had to explain to them that I was using the “to willingly lower oneself to another’s level” sense of the term condescension, which they sometimes didn’t seem to realize was a tacit insult on my part. 🙂

          • Yep – there are some people and some notions that aren’t even worthy of honest engagement. Ridicule and laughter is the only way to go.

        • And I have my opinion, which differs from yours on grounds of being informed as well as historically normative. Rome never gave triumphal parades for their bureaucrats.

  5. Since Memorial Day arose in the aftermath of the ACW, when the women of the conquered South went out and decorated the graves of fallen friend and fallen foe alike, I’m going to slightly encroach on our hostess’ ban on the subject, and post a famous poem commemorating it. It was a major turning point in Reconstruction, and healed a number of festering wounds on both sides. Better yet, it was spontaneous.

    The Blue And The Gray
    Francis Miles Finch (1827-1907)

    By the flow of the inland river,
    Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
    Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
    Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
    Under the sod and the dew,
    Waiting the judgment-day;
    Under the one, the Blue,
    Under the other, the Gray
    These in the robings of glory,
    Those in the gloom of defeat,
    All with the battle-blood gory,
    In the dusk of eternity meet:
    Under the sod and the dew,
    Waiting the judgement-day
    Under the laurel, the Blue,
    Under the willow, the Gray.

    From the silence of sorrowful hours
    The desolate mourners go,
    Lovingly laden with flowers
    Alike for the friend and the foe;
    Under the sod and the dew,
    Waiting the judgement-day;
    Under the roses, the Blue,
    Under the lilies, the Gray.

    So with an equal splendor,
    The morning sun-rays fall,
    With a touch impartially tender,
    On the blossoms blooming for all:
    Under the sod and the dew,
    Waiting the judgment-day;
    Broidered with gold, the Blue,
    Mellowed with gold, the Gray.

    So, when the summer calleth,
    On forest and field of grain,
    With an equal murmur falleth
    The cooling drip of the rain:
    Under the sod and the dew,
    Waiting the judgment -day,
    Wet with the rain, the Blue
    Wet with the rain, the Gray.

    Sadly, but not with upbraiding,
    The generous deed was done,
    In the storm of the years that are fading
    No braver battle was won:
    Under the sod adn the dew,
    Waiting the judgment-day;
    Under the blossoms, the Blue,
    Under the garlands, the Gray

    No more shall the war cry sever,
    Or the winding rivers be red;
    They banish our anger forever
    When they laurel the graves of our dead!
    Under the sod and the dew,
    Waiting the judgment-day,
    Love and tears for the Blue,
    Tears and love for the Gray.

  6. SCOTT JOHNSON, at PowerLine recalls this Wall Street Journal op-ed from 2007 which relates a tale with which I expect most of us are familiar:

    American Honor
    By PETER COLLIER
    Updated May 26, 2007 12:01 a.m. ET
    [SNIP]
    Leo Thorsness was also at the Hanoi Hilton. The Air Force pilot had taken on four MiGs trying to strafe his wingman who had parachuted out of his damaged aircraft; Mr. Thorsness destroyed two and drove off the other two. He was shot down himself soon after this engagement and found out by tap code that his name had been submitted for the Medal.

    One of Mr. Thorsness’s most vivid memories from seven years of imprisonment involved a fellow prisoner named Mike Christian, who one day found a grimy piece of cloth, perhaps a former handkerchief, during a visit to the nasty concrete tank where the POWs were occasionally allowed a quick sponge bath. Christian picked up the scrap of fabric and hid it.

    Back in his cell he convinced prisoners to give him precious crumbs of soap so he could clean the cloth. He stole a small piece of roof tile which he laboriously ground into a powder, mixed with a bit of water and used to make horizontal stripes. He used one of the blue pills of unknown provenance the prisoners were given for all ailments to color a square in the upper left of the cloth. With a needle made from bamboo wood and thread unraveled from the cell’s one blanket, Christian stitched little stars on the blue field.

    “It took Mike a couple weeks to finish, working at night under his mosquito net so the guards couldn’t see him,” Mr. Thorsness told me. “Early one morning, he got up before the guards were active and held up the little flag, waving it as if in a breeze. We turned to him and saw it coming to attention and automatically saluted, some of us with tears running down our cheeks. Of course, the Vietnamese found it during a strip search, took Mike to the torture cell and beat him unmercifully. Sometime after midnight they pushed him into our cell, so bad off that even his voice was gone. But when he recovered in a couple weeks he immediately started looking for another piece of cloth.”

    We impoverish ourselves by shunting these heroes and their experiences to the back pages of our national consciousness. Their stories are not just boys’ adventure tales writ large. They are a kind of moral instruction. They remind of something we’ve heard many times before but is worth repeating on a wartime Memorial Day when we’re uncertain about what we celebrate. We’re the land of the free for one reason only: We’re also the home of the brave.

    Mr. Collier wrote the text for “Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty” (Workman, 2006).

    When we cease to respect bravery and no longer honor those willing to risk their lives to protect our rights we will have forfeited a birthright greater than Esau’s for even less than a bite of bread with lentils.

    In event the WSJ article (the entireity of which merits attentioin) is restricted, visit powerlineblog[DOT]com/archives/2016/05/americas-honor-4.php

  7. “You cannot choose your battlefield/ The Gods do that for you.
    But you can plant a standard/Where a standard never flew.” paraphrased from “The Colors” by Nathalia Crane

  8. Randy Wilde