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2013 Memorial Day Remembrance

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Those of you who know me, know I bleed red-white-and-blue, and an occasion like Memorial Day is one that I would hardly miss to praise the valor and sacrifice of my brothers and sisters in the US Armed Forces.

Nevertheless, this Memorial Day, I’d like to commemorate our British Allies, who have fought and bled and died with us in all of our wars of the XXth century. Today, Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and everyone in the United Kingdom, are in mourning for the brutal murder of a British serviceman on May 22nd.

 brits

Our brother – for any man in British uniform is our brother – was first run over by his assassins in their car, then dragged out into the middle of the street and hacked literally to pieces in front of a horrified, but defenseless crowd. These vile murderers then calmly waited for the police response, all the while espousing their propaganda of hate and showing their bloody hands and bloody tools to the cameras. When police arrived, they attempted to attack them too; but were shot and subdued[1].

murderers 

All of this occurred in broad daylight, just a few hundred yards from the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich.

Today is the day we remember all those who fell in defense of freedom; that is wholly appropriate. Those who gave, in Lincoln’s immortal words “the last full measure of devotion”[2] to their brothers-in-arms and to their countrymen, certainly deserve a special day for us to mingle praise and pride and prayer in equal measure. But more importantly, let us also remember the men and women still living, who do not sacrifice themselves and their families for only one day of the year.  The next time you see a soldier in uniform, shake their hand; say “thank you”; buy them a cup of coffee, at least.

There are many in the West who decry violence of any kind and who renounce the use of force under any circumstances. “War is all cruelty, and you cannot refine it,”[3] said General William T Sherman of another conflict, but speaking an eternal truth. And certainly, it is the proper and legitimate duty of the citizen to question our governments when they send the lads overseas; whether the cause is just, the means proportionate and the end achievable. And those leaders bear the heaviest of responsibilities, for “if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make.”[4] Those who bring about an unjust war deserve the scorn and hatred of mankind; but the lads go where they are told in faithful fulfillment of their sworn duty and bear no part in that decision. The people who are most vitriolic in their denunciation of their own militaries and servicemen would do well to remember George Orwell: “Those who ‘abjure’ violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf.” [5]

Rudyard Kipling expresses the sentiment better than I ever will in his poem “Tommy”:

“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.”[6]

Today, as we remember our own fallen comrades, let’s also say a prayer for the soul of Drummer Lee Rigby, 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, a young man basely murdered on the 22nd of May, 2013. And remember in your prayers his wife, Rebecca, his two year old son Jack, and all his family.  They too have sacrificed without wearing the uniform.

drummerleerigby 

 



Sources and Notes:

 [1] Woolwich Attack, BBC News, 27 May 2013
[2] Lincoln, Abraham, “The Gettysburg Address,” 19 November 1863
[3] Sherman, William Tecumseh, “Letter to the Mayor and Councilmen of Atlanta,” 12 September 1864
[4] “The Life of King Henry the Fifth, Act 4, Scene 1,” William Shakespeare
[5] Orwell, George, “Notes on Nationalism,” Polemic, May 1945
[6] Kipling, Rudyard, “Tommy – Barrack Room Ballads, and Other Verses,” First published in 1892

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“Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.“

John Adams

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