In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields

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

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

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

– Major John McCrae

World War One distorted everything we know, every way we live. Long before you and I were born, the world had been changed by the long war of the 20th century.

A war that was unnecessary and probably nefarious.

But people don’t see history with the Author’s eye. And even now, if our country is attacked, even if “them idiots in the white house” brought it about, if our country is attacked, we’ll fight.

Today we honor those who died for their nation. We remember those we personally knew.

When our own time comes, let us go with dignity and honor. And if required, allow us to take an honor guard.

134 thoughts on “In Flanders Fields

  1. If people haven’t seen it yet… definitely watch Peter Jackson’s documentary on WWI, “They Shall Not Grow Old,” and then his documentary on how he made the documentary.

    It’s not for young kids (and he made sure of that, by including every freaking verse of the uncensored “Mademoiselle from Armentieres”), but it’s not actually as brutal as you’d think.

    One of the points made is that most WWI veterans had a hard time, but weren’t broken, and a lot of guys from really hard backgrounds thought of their war service as a stroke of good luck, leading them into a better life. They were positive about their achievements as units, and their country’s participation in the Allies. (Although obviously these were the guys who survived, not the guys who died on the battlefield or in the hospitals.)

    A lot of stuff about the war being so bad, so nihilistic, so hopeless, was written by propagandists for various leftist causes, and many of them were not people who even served. And some of it was just writers writing out their feelings, and then they got on with life. Nobody expected kids to be taught that WWI was the super-worstest and all for nothing. (Of course, nobody expected Woodrow Wilson, either….) I definitely did not expect to learn this from Peter Jackson! But he is a WWI buff, and I’m not.

    But it makes sense.

    I mean, look at the US Civil War. It was brutal and long, and there was a high death count, and it was also a war of brother against brother. And it marked us. But we didn’t give up on every freaking American value. Heck, not even Southerners did that. Even when we hated each other, we were still sure that we had all been fighting for things worth dying for.

    1. Here’s a UK video, not by Peter Jackson, with 45 minutes of Peter Jackson’s ridiculously large and well-maintained WWI memorabilia collection, including one of the world’s largest private collections of fighter planes (ie, biplanes, but still):

      1. About 6 minutes in, you get to see footage from a Super 8 WWI fiction movie that he made as a little kid, which involved actors in costume as well as special effects model shots. Clearly he was a bit ambitious!

        1. Re: World War Dragon, about 29-30 minutes in, they talk about how Peter Jackson owns a great deal of the existing Red Baron personal property, and it’s all on display in New Zealand, at Omaka’s Aviation Heritage Centre. (Which Peter Jackson basically stocked from his own collection, and decorated with his movie people.)

          So obviously that’s a bit of a trek, but you can look at the memorabilia pretty well in the documentary, and presumably they have a website.

          1. On a related note, a shorter trek will bring you to the Dawn Patrol Rendezvous, being held at the Air Force Museum in Dayton again this October 5-8. It offers an opportunity to see full-size replica WWI aircraft on the ground and flying, scale RC WWI aircraft, reenactors, memorabilia, etc. Plus there are real and replica WWI aircraft in the museum proper. I’m still kicking myself for not buying that signed copy of Eddie Rickenbacker’s “Fighting the Flying Circus” at the 2018 Rendezvous.

    2. I second that recommendation. I still think that most wars are a terrible waste of human life and potential, and no matter who ‘wins’, everyone loses something important. The obvious exception is defensive war to protect family and the values that help create a stable society.

    3. Within two decades of the end of the Civil War, veterans of both sides were holding joint reunions and celebrating the reunification of the United States. Those reunions continued until most of the veterans were gone. Do other countries do this after civil wars? I can’t think of one.

      1. Most other countries are still fighting those civil wars, even if the original countries in which they were fought no longer exist.

      2. And it bothers me to no end that the men who fought the Civil War could reconcile and make peace…while the modern Leftists are trying to rip that wound open for their political benefit.

        1. It gets to me, too, that some people really seem to want to reim.pose Reconstruction. I suspect envy is involved: how dare the South be more happy and prosperous than the Good People?

      3. They also had a concept of honorable enemies. Most countries around the world don’t have that concept; and treatment of prisoners really sucks, in spite of the Geneva Conventions. (Waterboarding subjects of interrogation puts the U.S. in the barbarian side I’m afraid.)

    4. I’d rather naively hoped that WW III, Police Action CCCV and Training and Support Operation MMMCDXV would be fought in the halls of justice and the boardrooms, rather than the battlefields.

      Alas, violence is the last resort of the competent, as well as the incompetent.

    5. What symbolizes how different WW1 was compared to the earlier wars is the major nations in 1914 could still have the informal Christmas truce, but a year later they couldn’t.

      To me that is the great symbol of the West losing faith in itself. War be damned, their were common ideals that bonded the vision of the West 1914/12/25. They were gone, with various attempts to recovery Marxism (whose claim to truth died with the first shot of WW1 when the workers fought for their nations) rushed in to fill the void.

      1. WWI was perhaps the most evil and unnecessary war in history, and the West has never fully recovered from it..It also guaranteed WWII, as historians now recognize….Many of those nations’ best young men died,… for the ruin of their own societies..Europe had been friendly and collegial before 1914, and that never recovered either..

    6. I recently stumbled onto a book, purchased but yet to be read, called “Mud, Blood, and Poppycock”, that has this exact premise. I got the book because I wanted to see what case was to be made that WWI wasn’t as insane and pointless as we have been led to believe.

      (At least, not until Woodrow Wilson got involved and messed everything up ….)

      Even so, I doubt this is the first war the Left completely mangled for propaganda purposes, and it certainly wasn’t the last!

  2. About 15 years ago I got to hear James McEachin quote this poem at a welcome home ceremony for a unit that had lost a soldier in a rollover accident. It was very moving.

  3. “When our own time comes, let us go with dignity and honor. And if required, allow us to take an honor guard.”

    So say we all.

    If I must die today then let my body be found lying atop a hill of expended brass behind a barricade made from the bodies of my dead enemies.

    1. a cap trooper isn’t necessarily expected to stay alive (dying is part of his trade)… but they care a lot about how you die. It has to be heads up, on
      the bounce, and still trying.

        1. Yep, that comes after discussing Hendricks and another recruit dying in the wilderness survival challange.

          Both were the first in their company to reach the rank of Private 1st Class (which we learn later is normally only done after combat, a Recruit Private who graduates merely becoming a Trained Private).

          That simple fact tells you nearly everything you need to know about how Heinlein envisioned the MI (who he based heavily on WW2 Marines which despite the draft took a lot of action to be as close to a volunteer force as possible).

        2. Long ago, girl friend of mine was destroyed by the death of her younger brother in a stupid training accident during the last stages of the Vietnam war…The casualties aren’t all on the battlefield..

  4. Thank you for that. My father died in October 1940 as a member of the French Resistance, helping evaders to get out of France, so it made me weep to see a tribute like that.

  5. My grandfather’s favorite poem…found it in his diaries. He wanted to go overseas….but he was so good at training and organizing they put him in the camps training soldiers. His younger brother went overseas as a cook. Both survived. The second generation went to the Pacific in WWII. Grandfather’s father went to a northern camp in NC and died there of a disease (never fought?) in the civil war. Yes, remember them all.

    1. There’s a pathetic trend, err tsunami, of thought and practice in American Law that everything must be based on the U.S. Constitution, and only derives from it. They forget that the United States of America would never exist without the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution was designed to support those concepts stated in the Declaration, not to entirely replace it.

      Chesterson speaks of lucidity. I’m afraid our would-be elitists and members of the Law, would prefer obscurity and doubt to clarity and lucidity; it makes it so much easier to control subjects. Unfortunately, Australia, Canada, and even New Zealand have gotten a big helping of totalitarian control lately.

      1. The Constitution is and was a contract between the States, which replaced the Articles of Confederation..It doesn’t deal, except incidentally, with the Natural rights and ideals of the Declaration…One of which, that all men are created equal (in their natural, God given rights) has been grossly misinterpreted to support the leftist “blank slate” doctrine so essential to communism…

      2. If you haven’t, you really should read the entire introduction to that book, if not the book itself– What I Saw in America is just charming.

  6. I’ve been to Ypres many times for the “Last Post” ceremony. So much death around the city and in Belgium. The one thing that sticks out the most to me is how all the governments involved used the most outrageous propaganda to inflame their populations. This prolonged the war because how could there be a negotiated peace with people who were pure evil? Probably also made WWII inevitable given how Germany was starved and punished for years after the fighting stopped.

    I see the same thing going on now with Ukraine and Russia. Our government and the media portray Ukraine as a beacon of freedom and democracy while Russian is completely evil. The truth is both governments are corrupt and both run by terrible people. Both sides have committed terrible war crimes and neither is innocent. Yes, Russia launched the attack and I have no sympathy for them. But how can a peace ever be possible if Russians are backed into the corner?

    1. Well, it’s difficult. There was outrageous propaganda. But also, the Germans did some truly unbelievable, horrible, and crazy stuff that is extremely well-documented. (They literally packed up entire factories and sent them back to Germany from Belgium, for example.)

      And they did commit some ridiculously bad atrocities. I think a lot of this may have stemmed from bad things being allowed to happen in African colonies, and then in the Franco-Prussian War, without any retribution from anybody. So eventually they happened even worse in WWI.

      So first you had people believing any war atrocity story, and then you have people being taught to discount all of them.

      Which eventually came back to bite the world, when Holocaust news were discounted as just more horribly unfair and untrue stories about Germans being beasts. When they were actually true stories.

      So Holocaust deniers are probably the last echo of propaganda vs. propaganda vs. reality, in WWI.

      1. “They literally packed up entire factories and sent them back to Germany from Belgium, for example.”

        I’m not sure that counts as crazy or horrible. It’s more like the old historical version of “sacking the city” or “plunder”, just in the first actual war where a) the plunderees actually HAD factories and b) there was a dense enough rail network to make it a practical proposition. Naturally the Soviets did the same thing after WWII to Germany.

        1. Yeah, but normal is “we take over the factory and run it ourselves,” and “we copy all the bits we like onto plans and send them home,” not “we take it all home with us.”

          I mean, it’s a factory. There are bits that aren’t supposed to ever move again.

          In some ways, I suppose it’s an application of “we buy and take apart this small unused temple or monastery building, mark all the blocks, ship it home, and put it back together.” But a lot of times, that didn’t end up working IRL. A factory would be a lot younger, but also a lot more complicated.

          So I’ll stand by “crazy,” because it just seems wildly impractical.

          1. Nah, it makes sense. The machinery in those factories was expensive, and – at least during World War 2 (and likely WW1, though I’m not certain) – required machine tooling to create. It was valuable stuff that was not cheap or easy to produce in such large quantities.

          2. That is just you being racist against cultures where, if it is not your cow, a cow dying is a benefit for you.

            Once you grok that someone else losing must be to your benefit somehow, everything else follows.

            Hauling stuff off, intact, may be a more comprehensive destruction of what is left behind than trying to destroy it in place.

            Even if your culture could not operate it intact, and even if you damage a lot trying to reassemble everything, you’ve profited by making someone else experience a loss. Anything you can get by banging rocks together trying to make the loot lay golden eggs is a bonus.

            An American thinks about whether one is more efficient with one’s own tools, that one is already skilled in, and the opportunity cost of other things that one can do with the work force.

        1. Any official lie is bad.

          Worst are repeated, obvious lies.

          People catch on, the official information source is discredited, and every sort of rumor has increased credibility. Every sort.

          Willing trust in an official information source has probably been previously earned by truth telling.

          ‘Unwilling trust’ is what you get from using force in an attempt to suppress public awareness of official falsehood. Practical issues include how easily you can terrorize the population, that not being able to kill everyone means that you are ignoring ordinary awareness of official falsehood, and that you still get the loss of trust, and the rumors, you only change the process of how the fallout develops.

          It is always tempting for officials to use publicly distributed lies to magnify their positive results, and increase their remuneration for their ‘services’. There are costs to this beyond the obvious. Government bureaucracies inherently have challenges from information corruption, and also often create unseen costs with economic meddling.

          1. Gah. I’m not sure how I want to put this. Probably should take an hour to plot it out.

            Ordinary people don’t fear the police, military, and government when there are few, easily understood laws that they agree to, that are fairly enforced; or have that appearance.

            People in positions of power, that alter that fairness in respect to themselves, either by passing laws without the consent of the people, or corrupting the enforcers, require the maintenance of that fair appearance to keep the people compliant.

            The problem exists that when the people finally begin to see through that facade, the forms of law that would allow peaceful removal of the corrupt elite and their enforcers has been abolished. The only means the people have left to clear house is by use of force; either legally by getting a strong leader capable of doing it from the top (similar to Trump), or by illegal means, usually executing those in power who are perceived to be the most egregious problems.

            We’ve seen that Trump was effective in his own way, but too naive in others. Many of the people he chose for problem solving were swampish critters looking for careers, wealth and power in their own right, rather than being project managers who knew they has a specific, time-delineated job to do and that they were gone when it was finished, or they screwed up. Whether it was Trump himself, or his cadre, that screwed up and woefully underestimated the level of fraud in the 2020 elections, I’m not sure of, but probably evenly divided between all of them.

            Still leaves us with the problem of bad rulers and no effective legal means to remove them in a timely fashion. Kind of wish we had a secret organization run by a “Kettle Belly Baldwin”, or a Bureau of Sabotage, to reign in these bad players in government. But then “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

            1. “Many of the people he chose for problem solving ”

              “Chose” = that were willing to risk being cancelled, that mobs of SturAntifa wouldn’t harrass their families, that the CoupBI and the other 3-letters would not fail their background checks, and that the Senate would confirm. Both Grassley and McConnell refused to replace Jeff Sessions, for example, long after he lost Trump’s confidence.

              I refuse to blame President Trump (or W, or any other Republican President) for their personnel choices until the laws are changed so he has the same freedom to hire and fire as he had as a CEO.

              1. You remember that Obama un-Constitutionally appointed czars to enact his policies? At least Trump tried to stay within the letter of the law.

      2. I’ve read a few books that make just that point about the German experience in southwest Africa showing up in how regulars (and reservists especially) reacted to things like rumors of “Franc Tireurs.” (French terrorists, except actually Belgian soldiers who didn’t have time to pull on a uniform so they wore arm-bands to show that they were soldiers, and a few civilians who shot at passing Germans. Very, very few, who were magnified out of all proportion.) I can’t find the gal’s book right now, but I thought she made some interesting points.

          1. Oh yes. Apparently the Herero War and other things were picked up by the General Staff, and attitudes towards those who conducted “irregular warfare” were magnified, then passed down the line. It really appeared at the onset of the Belgian resistance, when the Belgians insisted on fighting with whatever they had. That wasn’t “proper” warfare, so the jump from “a legal-but-uncommon variation on defensive warfare” became “they are barbarians and must be punished.” Catholic priests were also targeted by the Germans, especially reservists, because it was assumed that people in churches were actually in the church towers, sniping. Plus the German nationalists anti-Catholic fables led to the assumption that priests were spies for . . . someone. Probably “terrorists.”

            It was a fascinating book, and the gal has written other works on international law and the laws of war.

            1. Puts a slightly different slant on the ‘Russians are executing civilians’ thing. Were those civilians folk who grabbed a weapon at the beginning of the conflict (I seem to remember lots of talk about Ukrainians lining up to grab weapons as the Russians were coming)? If so, and they were taking pot shots at Russian troops without formally being a part of the Ukrainian military, wouldn’t that make them ‘franc tireurs’? As I understand it, that may make them subject to summary execution.

              Of course it’s hard to make the argument that small children were involved in hostilities, but I’m thinking the ‘massacred civilians’ thing may not be so cut and dried as it seemed at first glance.

              1. If you’re a legal resident or citizen of your country, and you’re shooting at invading military forces, you are not a terrorist, or a criminal. You are a civilian militia member ethically, morally, and often legally, repelling an invasion force. You can shoot them in combat, but if captured or surrendered, you’re required to treat them the same as captured uniformed military members. Gunning down or blowing up an entire village? Nope, that’s a war atrocity and those responsible need to go to prison, or be executed.

                1. I think you’ve captured the essence, but it is slightly more nuanced. ISTR civilian militia types needing to be wearing identifiable markers within X days of the invasion and and openly carrying their arms in order to be considered legal combatants subject to the prisoner of war protections.

                  1. Per Wiki-bloody-pedia:

                    They must be “commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates, have a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance, carry arms openly, and conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.”

              2. On the third hand, civilians are still entitled to self-defense, so if the soldiers are shooting first. . . .

      3. So first you had people believing any war atrocity story, and then you have people being taught to discount all of them.

        That mode of operation is still going strong today.

      4. Both sides were playing rough. The British classified food as contraband of war, which had never been done before. Q-ships (armed ships disguised as merchantmen to ambush U-boats) were very dubious legally. It was a nasty, nasty war.

      5. Barbara Tuchmann in The Guns of August, used only Central and neutral sources for her chapter on atrocities, and still managed a chapter.

      6. The French were even worse, and the British Navy cut all the underseas cables except their own, to prevent their propaganda from being challenged, and instituted a food blockade of Germany,,which was a war crime.

    2. Germany’s a bit tricky to figure out. It’s true that the treaty was punishing. But it’s also true that Germany had largely recovered and was economically in fairly decent shape before the Nazis took power. One of the biggest causes of World War 2 imo might have been the country’s surrender before the Entente entered German territory. Yes, it no doubt saved a lot of lives. But the army started to push the idea that the government had betrayed the army with the armistice (even though the army leaders at the time had backed it; those same army leaders later lied about their role in the discussions over the armistice). And the idea caught hold with the general public. Even though Germany’s loss was a foregone conclusion by the end of the war, that apparently never sank in with the German population.

      If Germany herself had been exposed to the devastating effects of the war, it might have rammed home to the general population that they really had lost.

      1. When the Depression [and FDR] killed the American economy, it killed the German economy, which was dependent on the Dawes Plan. The instability that followed led to the Third Reich.

      2. My understanding is that before Germany lost, they had a lot of propaganda going on telling themselves they were winning, and some of it just stuck even after the surrender.

        I imagine it didn’t help that Germany’s post war government seems to have also been fairly corrupt and not terribly competent either.

        It’s been a while, but I’ve got the general impression that the government seemed to bounce between not wanting to do the legal but hard things they needed to do to deal with the violent brown shirts and trying stupid and not terribly legitimate methods to try and make them less of a problem, and mostly succeeded in undermining themselves in the process.

        1. Unless you were in the Rhineland, the average German never saw evidence of defeat or occupation in 1918-1919. So the shock of Versailles (and the Spartacist uprisings and dang near civil war in some parts of Germany) hit hard.

          1. “dang near civil war in some parts of Germany”

            Near? They had artillery barrages, air bombardment, and division level engagements between the Freikorps and the Communist units. That blows past “near” even in MY book.

            1. I was going by scale at the national level. It wasn’t like the US experience, or the Russian misery. But yes, if you were anywhere close to the mess, it was a war-war.

        2. The German Spring Offensives looked to be wildly successful, after years of front movements measured in yards the Germans were advancing miles every day. What wasn’t obvious, especially to those reading German newspapers, is that Ludendorf didn’t really have an objective for the offensives. He was just advancing for the sake of advancing, bleeding away German military strength while the Americans were building up theirs. Add in the reluctance on the part of everyone to report bad news once the tide turned and it becomes easy to see how the reversal over the summer of 1918 could be unbelievably sudden.

      3. I can help with this, I think. When the Germans asked for an armistice in November 1918, they held a slice of France and most of Belgium. Their high command had concluded that Germany could not win the war…but the Allies didn’t have it in the bag, would not until 1919. So the Germans could trade their residual power to inflict losses for bearable peace terms.

        Unfortunately, the Allied governments had suffered such high losses that reasonable peace terms would not be accepted by their own people. So they kept up the naval blockade – which included, for the first time, foodstuffs – until they starved Germany into signing the Treaty of Versailles. For a lot of front-line troops, the terms of that treaty seemed like a betrayal by the civilians at home. Which would be capitalized on, eventually…

        1. Worse, it led to a lot of WWII atrocities. The Nazi high command’s great fear of another stab in the back meant they wanted to ensure that the German civilians did not suffer, even if the rest of Europe starved for it.

        2. The Germans also held all of Luxembourg, and that’s leaving Eastern Europe out of the picture.

      4. This. If you are going to treat a nation as defeated you must defeat them. If you agree to armestice before defeat then the best you can do is return to the status quo ante and maybe indemnity to harmed neutrals.

        You cannot take away territory gained by treaty with a previously defeated nation or demand near total disarmament. Unless you want to humiliate the nation and given ammo to individuals who want to have another go.

        Look at the French reaction to the humiliations Germany visited on them after the French were defeated 50 years earlier.

    3. The biggest failure was not to defeat Germany but let them end the war with an armistice then treat them as defeated in peace.

      The reality is on 11/11/1918 there was effectively no allied forces in Germany but huge parts of France and Belgium were held in Germany, there was still an active German army in East Africa, and much of the European parts of the Russian Empire were ceded to Germany when Russia collapsed.

      A reasonable armestice would at most have reset western borders and demanded reparations to Belgium only (they were still officially neutral at war’s end having never joined the allies. Anything more required driving the German army back into Germany and occupying the nation, but that was put off 27 years.

      1. years ago, my father advised me to “always leave a man his face unless you’re going to kill him.” I’ve operated on that basis since and passed it on to my sons. He also told me to never be right when everyone else is wrong, because they’ll hate you. This one proved a little harder since in my business the big money is made in being contrary at the right time.

        Wise man, my Da. Miss him, a lot.

    1. Like the Soros sock-puppet D.A. in New York letting murderers out on ‘no bail’ but threatening 7 year prison sentences for ‘forged vaccine passports’. Or Kamela Harris bailing out rioters, looters and arsonists, and then people are STILL being held in solitary confinement for ‘public parading’ at the Capitol A YEAR AND 4 F’ING MONTHS AGO!!
      The Capitol is OUR house. Congresscritters are just the help.

      1. I’m all for no bail for murderers, rapists, and thieves. Keep the critters locked up! But then there’s that pesky Constitution, again . . .

        1. How do you know they are murderers before the trial? Locking them up destroys their lives and makes it much harder to defend themselves.

          1. Sorry, was trying to make the point that ‘No Bail’ has an alternate meaning than the Catch and Release idea the so-called justice reform crowd seems to think it does.

        2. If you have a secret invention that will let us detect their guilt at the time of setting bail, we’re all for it.

  7. When I was young, I memorized ‘In Flanders Fields’ and recited it to my grandpa, who was a WW2 vet. That, and the interview we did with him for a school history fair, were the only times I saw past the grumpy old man to a horribly damaged young man who had been on the front lines with the Signal Corps in the Pacific theater, and had also been one of the first soldiers to witness the horrors of Auschwitz after the war. He had never talked about it, not even to his children, and I was too young at the time to really understand.
    It’s depressing how many of the values and things he fought for are disintegrating. I suppose my role now is to figure out how to preserve what can be preserved, and to keep the flame of freedom alive in my own small way.

  8. The New York Post has this, which quotes extensively from Henry V:

    St. Crispin’s Day

    By William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

        If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
        To do our country loss; and if to live
        The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
        God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

        By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
        Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
        It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
        Such outward things dwell not in my desires:

        But if it be a sin to covet honour,
        I am the most offending soul alive.
        No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
        God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour

        As one man more, methinks, would share from me
        For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
        Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
        That he which hath no stomach to this fight,

        Let him depart; his passport shall be made
        And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
        We would not die in that man’s company
        That fears his fellowship to die with us.

        This day is call’d the feast of Crispian:
        He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
        Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
        And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

        He that shall live this day, and see old age,
        Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors,
        And say ‘Tomorrow is Saint Crispian:’
        Then he will strip his sleeve and show his scars,

        And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
        Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
        But he’ll remember with advantages
        What feats he did that day: then shall our names

        Familiar in his mouth as household words:
        Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
        Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
        Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d,

        This story shall the good man teach his son;
        And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
        From this day to the ending of the world,
        But we in it shall be remembered;

        We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
        For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
        Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
        This day shall gentle his condition:

        And gentlemen in England now abed
        Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
        And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
        That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

  9. Since this is Memorial Day/Decoration Day, here’s a Civil War memorial poem from our local poet laureate, Paul Laurence Dunbar. (He was about the same age as the Wright Brothers, so obviously he didn’t remember the Civil War himself.) I thought I’d read all his poems, but I don’t recall coming across this one before!

    And yes, I find it ironic that he stands with Delany and Lackey….

    The Colored Soldiers
    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    If the muse were mine to tempt it
    And my feeble voice were strong,
    If my tongue were trained to measures,
    I would sing a stirring song.
    I would sing a song heroic
    Of those noble sons of Ham,
    Of the gallant colored soldiers
    Who fought for Uncle Sam!

    In the early days you scorned them,
    And with many a flip and flout
    Said “These battles are the white man’s,
    And the whites will fight them out.”
    Up the hills you fought and faltered,
    In the vales you strove and bled,
    While your ears still heard the thunder
    Of the foes’ advancing tread.

    Then distress fell on the nation,
    And the flag was drooping low;
    Should the dust pollute your banner?
    No! the nation shouted, No!
    So when War, in savage triumph,
    Spread abroad his funeral pall —
    Then you called the colored soldiers,
    And they answered to your call.

    And like hounds unleashed and eager
    For the life blood of the prey,
    Spring they forth and bore them bravely
    In the thickest of the fray.
    And where’er the fight was hottest,
    Where the bullets fastest fell,
    There they pressed unblanched and fearless
    At the very mouth of hell.

    Ah, they rallied to the standard
    To uphold it by their might;
    None were stronger in the labors,
    None were braver in the fight.
    From the blazing breach of Wagner
    To the plains of Olustee,
    They were foremost in the fight
    Of the battles of the free.

    And at Pillow! God have mercy
    On the deeds committed there,
    And the souls of those poor victims
    Sent to Thee without a prayer.
    Let the fulness of Thy pity
    O’er the hot wrought spirits sway
    Of the gallant colored soldiers
    Who fell fighting on that day!

    Yes, the Blacks enjoy their freedom,
    And they won it dearly, too;
    For the life blood of their thousands
    Did the southern fields bedew.
    In the darkness of their bondage,
    In the depths of slavery’s night,
    Their muskets flashed the dawning,
    And they fought their way to light.

    They were comrades then and brothers.
    Are they more or less to-day?
    They were good to stop a bullet
    And to front the fearful fray.
    They were citizens and soldiers,
    When rebellion raised its head;
    And the traits that made them worthy,—
    Ah! those virtues are not dead.

    They have shared your nightly vigils,
    They have shared your daily toil;
    And their blood with yours commingling
    Has enriched the Southern soil.
    They have slept and marched and suffered
    ‘Neath the same dark skies as you,
    They have met as fierce a foeman,
    And have been as brave and true.

    And their deeds shall find a record
    In the registry of Fame;
    For their blood has cleansed completely
    Every blot of Slavery’s shame.
    So all honor and all glory
    To those noble sons of Ham —
    The gallant colored soldiers
    Who fought for Uncle Sam!

    1. Here’s Dunbar being very sharp-tongued in his sonnet turn. Hoboy, he would have had some things to say to the BLM crowd that defaced Robert Gould Shaw’s monument in Boston.

      Robert Gould Shaw
      by Paul Laurence Dunbar

      Why was it that the thunder voice of Fate
      Should call thee, studious, from the classic groves,
      Where calm-eyed Pallas with still footsteps roves,
      And charge thee seek the turmoil of the State?
      What bade thee hear the voice and rise elate,
      Leave home and kindred and thy spicy loaves,
      To lead th’ unlettered and despised droves
      To manhood’s home and thunder at the gate?

      Far better the slow blaze of Learning’s light,
      The cool and quiet of her dearer fane,
      Than this hot terror of a hopeless fight,
      This cold endurance of the final pain,—
      Since thou and those who with thee died for right
      Have died, the Present teaches, but in vain!

  10. Gettysburg
    by James Jeffrey Roche

    There was no union in the land,
    Though wise men labored long
    With links of clay and ropes of sand
    To bind the right and wrong.

    There was no temper in the blade
    That once could cleave a chain;
    Its edge was dull with touch of trade
    And clogged with rust of gain.

    The sand and clay must shrink away
    Before the lava tide:
    By blows and blood and fire assay
    The metal must be tried.

    Here sledge and anvil met, and when
    The furnace fiercest roared,
    God’s undiscerning workingmen
    Reforged His people’s sword.

    Enough for them to ask and know
    The moment’s duty clear—
    The bayonets flashed it there below,
    The guns proclaimed it here:

    To do and dare, and die at need,
    But while life lasts, to fight—
    For right or wrong a simple creed,
    But simplest for the right.

    They faltered not who stood that day
    And held this post of dread;
    Nor cowards they who wore the gray
    Until the gray was red.

    For every wreath the victor wears
    The vanquished half may claim;
    Every monument declares
    A common pride and fame.

    We raise no altar stones to Hate,
    Who never bowed to fear:
    No province crouches at our gate,
    To shame our triumph here.

    Here standing by a dead wrong’s grave
    The blindest now may see,
    The blow that liberates the slave
    But sets the master free!

    When ills beset the nation’s life
    Too dangerous to bear,
    The sword must be the surgeon’s knife,
    Too merciful to spare.

    O Soldier of our common land,
    ‘Tis thine to bear that blade
    Loose in the sheath, or firm in hand,
    But ever unafraid.

    When foreign foes assail our right,
    One nation trusts to thee—
    To wield it well in worthy fight-
    The sword of Meade and Lee.

  11. The notion, “If our country is attacked, we will fight,” is not quiet true, sad to say. It was at one time. But, when our country was attacked on 911, there was no draft. Sure, some volunteered, but nothing like after Pearl Harbor. So how did our country fill the ranks? Well, they used the military they had, and for the first time, they also send reserve and National Guard units over seas. And they used that military over and over and over. I saw none of that during my war (Vietnam). During Vietnam, there was a draft. I was drafted. But I had friends who got deferments for college, and friends who knew people who could get them in reserve units (because at that time, the reserves remained in country). Some people feigned illness or injuries to get out of the draft. So the result was that mostly lower middle class men were drafted and sent to Vietnam. And when I was there, that’s what I saw.

    We have been steadily disunited over the last fifty years. Race relations are at an all time low. Traditional notions of manhood and courage have been eroded. Strong men demonized as being toxic. Our military made less cohesive and effective because of ‘woke’ policies. And I wonder if we were attacked if we could mount an effective counter attack and prevail? I’m not so sure anymore.

    But, yes, we should remember and appreciate our fallen heroes. There were brave men and women who died for the country they loved. Can that country be put back together again? I don’t know.

    1. I have no idea why this didn’t post.
      I do however want to point out that having a mass enlistment to fight terrorists is…. less than sane.
      Also, more people enlisted after 9/11 than you know. A lot of them on this blog. What there wasn’t was a mass DRAFT. Because it turns out armies of draftees are spectacularly inefficient. It just means we’ve learned from our mistakes.
      Don’t toss the country out. The country is fine. And no, not as divided as you think.
      Our politicians suck, but they did in WWI and WWII too. Arguably harder, because people trusted them.

      1. The reason we had a draft in WWII was so that all the glamorous branches couldn’t take their pick. So it’s possible one might come back.

      2. Because it turns out armies of draftees are spectacularly inefficient.

        The dumb kids in old bodies still haven’t figured out that Granpaw Heinlein had the right of things.

    2. “for the first time, they also send reserve and National Guard units over seas.”
      Marine Corps Reserve units were called up and most ended up being the reaction force to keep the Pusan Perimeter from collapsing. In Korea.

    3. Sure, some volunteered, but nothing like after Pearl Harbor.

      I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Perhaps “misinformed” would be more accurate, I don’t know what the news was saying at the time.

      I got in because I was already in training– my husband got in because he was only weeks from hitting boot camp–his recruiter was so swamped that he was having to juggle people around and my husband was able to go earlier than scheduled as they tried to fill every corner of Great Mistakes. Even then, he magically shrunk an inch so that he didn’t need a weight waiver anymore.

      By the time we hit the fleet, it was rare for there to be someone who had a waver hitting ARMY boot camp. Two years later, when my brother signed up, the Navy had raised their standards again, and still only gave wavers if someone had something exceptionally desirable.

      It’s gotten kind of buried since.

      Gotta neg on those horrible Millennials, you know.

      Much easier to pretend like the standards have been unchanging when you want to do a news report about how XY% of Kids These Days don’t qualify for military service. (…without a waiver, they don’t say.)

    4. That would all look a little scarier if it wasn’t the latest dressing up of what has been said about the country since day fucking one.

      As for the military; name a war the US has gone into that didn’t start with just plum awful troops and services utterly unfit for any sort of fight.

      (note I said a War, not a glorified stepping on annoying insects)

  12. I’m watching a Royal Institute video in between doing other things, and upon the opening graph appearing on screen, thought: Mrs. Hoyt keeps telling us about this.

    And there it is, cultural demoralization by the numbers.

    Ignore the click-bait title, mind, it is mainly an economic analysis of a snapshot in time rather than an OK Boomer screed.

  13. Maybe it oversimplifies things… but this spirit of reconciliation, or at least shared mourning, is part of why Decoration Day became a holiday for the whole US.

    The Dying Soldiers
    by Anonymous

    A waste of land, a sodden plain,
    A lurid sunset sky,
    With clouds that fled and faded fast
    In ghostly phantasy;
    A field upturned by trampling feet,
    A field uppiled with slain,
    With horse and rider blent in death
    Upon the battle plain.

    The dying and the dead lie low;
    For them, no more shall rise
    The evening moon, nor midnight stars,
    Nor day light’s soft surprise:
    They will not wake to tenderest call,
    Nor see again each home,
    Where waiting hearts shall throb and break,
    When this day’s tidings come.

    Two soldiers, lying as they fell
    Upon the reddened clay—
    In daytime, foes; at night, in peace
    Breathing their lives away!
    Brave hearts had stirred each manly breast;
    Fate only, made them foes;
    And lying, dying, side by side,
    A softened feeling rose.

    “Our time is short,” one faint voice said;
    “To-day we’ve done our best
    On different sides: what matters now?
    To-morrow we shall rest!
    Life lies behind. I might not care
    For only my own sake;
    But far away are other hearts,
    That this day’s work will break.

    “Among New Hampshire’s snowy hills,
    There pray for me to-night
    A woman, and a little girl
    With hair like golden light;”
    And at the thought, broke forth, at last,
    The cry of anguish wild,
    That would not longer be repressed
    “O God, my wife, my child!”

    “And,” said the other dying man,
    “Across the Georgia plain,
    There watch and wait for me loved ones
    I ne’er shall see again:
    A little girl, with dark, bright eyes,
    Each day waits at the door;
    Her father’s step, her father’s kiss,
    Will never greet her more.

    “To-day we sought each other’s lives:
    Death levels all that now;
    For soon before God’s mercy seat
    Together we shall bow.
    Forgive each other while we may;
    Life’s but a weary game,
    And, right or wrong, the morning sun
    Will find us, dead, the same.”

    The dying lips the pardon breathe;
    The dying hands entwine;
    The last ray fades, and over all
    The stars from heaven shine;
    And the little girl with golden hair,
    And one with dark eyes bright,
    On Hampshire’s hills, and Georgia’s plain,
    Were fatherless that night!

  14. Here is General Order No. 11 issued by Grand Army of the Republic Commander in Chief, General Logan, in 1868

    General Order
    No. 11

    Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic
    Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868

    I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
    We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic.
    If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.
    Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude,--the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.
    II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
    III. Department commanders will use every effort to make this order effective.
    By command of:
    N. P. CHIPMAN,
  15. Why was my comment not posted? A comment from a wounded and yes, somewhat bitter, Vietnam war vet not patriotic enough? Yes, I love my country, the bits that we still have, but I do mourn the good parts that have been taken apart and trashed. Next Memorial Day I’ll try and be more enthusiastic and less realistic.

    1. Probably the spam filter went feral again– at one point WordPress decided the name of a French general meant things were spam, and there’s been a couple of other “Wait, what?” type things, plus of course more than two links.

      1. Yup, good idea to post that it didn’t post. Sarah will go find stuff in the spam filter, and probably a lot of posts will be freed.

        It tends to stop me posting from work, at specific hours. Why WordPress doesn’t like me at specific hours, I don’t know. It’s not work filtering me.

        1. Oh, about last Tuesday, WP and my e-mail client combined to throw about half of everything sent by any of the WP blogs I follow — ATH, MGC, Cat Rotators, all of them — into my spam folder.


      2. The last I tried it, WP put you in the moderation gulag for more than one link.

        @carlmelcher1: There’s a reason why we say WordPress Delenda Est, or WPDE!

    2. It’s WP being a pain in the [tuckus] most likely, as others have said. Around here we reverse the Rule of Three, and assume enemy (WP) action first, then accident, then coincidence.

      1. I wrote a long essay yesterday, bouncing around a bunch of stuff, and complaining.

        Suburban Banshee wrote something that made a similar point, much more compactly.

        My essay either disappeared entirely, or was caught in that blog’s spam filter.

        I tend to comment with the javascript turned off, and use a bunch of tabs. Tabs makes it easier to figure out if a big thing didn’t post, without scrambling my history too much if I want to recover the text by hitting back.

        So, I noticed, recovered the text, and then latter decided the whole thing was a bit extreme, and deleted it.

    1. The whole t-storm watch area covers south dakota, and nebraska, so maybe the storm system could produce stuff there.

      But, to me it looks like the serious stuff right now is as you said.

    2. Remember, our enemies, squatting in their Socialist Paradises in the deep-blue coastal cities, consider a few inches of snow or rain to be a Natural Disaster.

      Meanwhile, in Flyover Country:

      “Looks like tornado weather, Pa.”

      “Well, keep an eye out. If one heads this way, git to the basement.”

      “Tornadoes sure are a pain, huh?”

      1. It’s what’s local, and what you’re used to. Keep in mind that here in deep blue California, we have largely the same dismissive attitude toward earthquakes. Meanwhile in much of flyover country, the ground giving a little quiver freaks people out.

        1. Nah. When nothing shook enough to fall over, I sort of yawned and thought, “Earthquake? Yeah, earthquake. Huh.” The epicenter was in OK.

        2. I yawned and thought, “Earthquake? Must be less than a three [Mercalli] because nothing fell over. Cool.” The epicenter was in OK. Apparently things were more entertaining if you were in the upper floors of one of the regional hospitals or one of the three tall office buildings.

  16. A post that I did, a couple of years ago, about the ruin that WWI left.

    There is a lovely little classical piece by Maurice Ravel – Le Tombeau de Couperin, composed shortly after the end of the war, five of the six movements dedicated to the memory of an individual, and one for a pair of brothers, all close friends of the composer, every one of them fallen in a war of such ghastliness that it not only put paid to a century of optimistic progress, but barely twenty years later it birthed another and hardly less ghastly war. Maurice Ravel himself was over-age, under-tall and not in the most robust of health, but such was the sense of national emergency that he volunteered for the military anyway, eventually serving as a driver – frequently under fire and in danger. Not the usual place to find one of France’s contemporarily-famous composers, but they did things differently at the end of the 19th Century and heading all wide-eyed and optimistic into the 20th. Citizens of the intellectual and artistic ilk were not ashamed of their country, or feel obliged to apologize for a patriotic attachment, or make a show of sullen ingratitude for having been favored by the public in displaying their talents.

    The war whose casualties Ravel memorialized in that way ended exactly a hundred years ago today; the eleventh month, eleventh day, eleventh hour. It seems now to have been unimaginably distant at this point. The soldiers who fought in it for every nation and yet managed by pluck and luck to survive are all gone now … but like a long-healed wound, that war left horrific scars both physical and psychic. Woodlands and meadows the length of the Western Front across Belgium and France to this day are still marked by trenchworks, crumbling fortifications, the soil still poisoned by chemicals. All across Europe, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Germany, what remained of Austria-Hungary – and the US, to a lesser extent – the smallest villages and the largest cities alike have memorials. Sometimes they are in odd corners, most often in a prominent place, with engraved tablets of names; the most notable were usually designed by the architectural great and good, standing on or near the battlefields themselves. The smallest memorials are sometimes the most moving – especially when the same handful of names appear. Everyone in this tiny village would have known this man or that, not just the immediate family and friends. This man, his neighbor, the boy who polished boots or delivered the mail; this and this, a hundred and a thousand times over. When those memorial monuments were first put up, the loss of the men – and sometimes of women – was a raw and savage grief. The observer picks up immediately on the sense of loss, the grief, the futile attempt to make a sense out of the cruelty visited on that community; they were here, they were of value, and now they are gone! The only thing we can do is to remember them.

    The political and psychic scars from the First World War, I think, have proved to be the deepest, and the longest-lasting. We are still dealing politically with the fall-out and the razor-edged shards of broken empires. The Austro-Hungarian empire splintered into component nations; Russia replaced the Romanovs and old ruling nobility with an even more vicious ruling class, the Ottoman Empire both splintered geographically, replacing the old inefficient Sultanate with an equally inefficient and/or vicious assortment of local ruling talent. Germany, wracked in defeat, replaced their supreme ruler serially with inefficient democracy and then crowned that debacle with Hitler, suffering another round of defeat and division. France – gutted of a generation of able, healthy and patriotic young men, required for the continuance of a stable society, those friends whom Ravel honored and mourned in his composition. Great Britain and her far-flung Empire, also gutted of men and the supreme societal self-confidence required to maintain that Empire, fell apart on a slower timetable. Documented in small and large ways in western literature and in even popular contemporary genre novels, the war marked a turning, a vast gulf, a shattering of the old, 19th Century optimism, and the certainty that things were bound – with the aid of science and industry – to only get better and better for that part of the world which thought of itself as ‘civilized.’ To the characters created for a mass audience by Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and any number of others – there seems in retrospect to be a “before” and an “after” to the war, which slashed a sharp dividing line across the cultural landscape; skirts were shorter, morals looser, music louder and more discordant, politics more rancorous, manners coarsened and buildings uglier. The shock and the loss of certainty in so much which had once been thought solid, stable, eternal … the reverberations when the guns finally fell silent on that day are still rippling across our consciousness, even when we don’t quite know why.

    1. I just reread “The Mysterious Affair at Styles.” I had forgotten it was set during WWI (Hastings is on convalescent leave) and that Poroit is present in the first place because he’s one of a group of Belgian refugees the victim has spnsored.

  17. I would prefer to live forever or die trying.

    Nobody wants to be dragged down into the disaster that makes for good poetry like that. But, when the Fickle Finger Of Fate moves along and picks us…

  18. A few weeks ago, my wife and I visited our in-laws who live on Flanders Field which is now beautiful farmland and clusters of neat houses. I’m pleased that the land forgets – not so that we forget as well.

    1. I suspect they still find uniform buttons and such.
      We still found Roman remains in the field next to my parents, the site of a battle when the Romans came to the peninsula.

      1. It was sobering when I took the train from Metz to Paris and realized why the train went around such a large swath of territory.

  19. The biggest failure was not to defeat Germany but let them end the war with an armistice then treat them as defeated in peace.

    The reality is on 11/11/1918 there was effectively no allied forces in Germany but huge parts of France and Belgium were held in Germany, there was still an active German army in East Africa, and much of the European parts of the Russian Empire were ceded to Germany when Russia collapsed.

    A reasonable armestice would at most have reset western borders and demanded reparations to Belgium only (they were still officially neutral at war’s end having never joined the allies. Anything more required driving the German army back into Germany and occupying the nation, but that was put off 27 years.

  20. I remember the first time I read “Rilla of Ingleside (by L.M. Montgomery, the last of the Anne books chronologically), and being astonished to find out that real, reasonably intelligent, people had actually believed the “War to End All Wars” nonsense.

  21. I was in the local store of a large hardware/home improvement retailer Memorial Day afternoon. I was moved when at 3:00 the address system played Taps. I was moved in a less good way when I noticed that I was the only one who seemed to have noticed…

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