"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. 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."

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

A few thoughts, some old, some new:

It is the soldier, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the soldier, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.
It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protestor to burn the flag.

Google, the colossus that started as a humble search engine and now has its own smartphones, satellite imagery database, and customized banners for every occasion from Groundhog Day to Lenin's birthday/Earth Day, apparently forgot about Memorial Day on its homepage. Today, it's just plain old "Google"; no patriotic banner, no red, white and blue colors, nothing. If you refresh their page about ten times, you MIGHT get a cheesy .gif image of a flag and yellow ribbon tacked on as an afterthought. For all the effort you put in to censoring the search queries of a billion Chinese, Google, you could have at least hired a part-time graphic design student to Microsoft Paint some stars and stripes onto your logo. Google, you suck.

At some point today, dear readers, spare a thought and a prayer for the souls of 1stLt Jared Landaker and Capt Kyle Van De Giesen and their families. Jared was killed in action in Anbar province in Feb., 2007, shot down by terrorist assholes as he tried to fly wounded Marines to safety. He was less than two weeks from going home. Kyle died in over the skies of Afghanistan last fall, a week from returning to the States to see the birth of his second child. It's men like these, who most deserve a future, that don't come back home. Semper fidelis and requiescat in pace.

And for all the fair-weather patriots who loudly "support the troops" while less loudly castigating them as victims, poor ill-educated suckers, and occasionally cold-blooded killers, a little Kipling for ya:

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

Oh, Tommy sees, and Tommy understands. Pray that Tommy, despite seeing and understanding, continues to man his post on freedom's ramparts and keeps all the wolves from your door.

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