Memorial Day

It comes on Monday, of course.

At Nijmegen in Holland, during Operation Market-Garden in World War II, the US paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne had to take the bridge in that town – as the Germans held the bridge and capturing it was vital, the Americans were forced to cross the river so they could take it from both ends, thus preventing the Germans from blowing the bridge up. The trouble was that its not like Airborne units carry landing craft with them.  And so the men had to cross with what could be made available – collapsible canvas boats without even enough oars, so the men had to use their rifle butts to propel themselves across the river in the face of determined and well-sited enemy forces.

I’m sure all of us have heard descriptions of battle where it is said that the “fighting was fierce” or words to that effect.  That is how the fighting across the river was, once the men actually got across – made extra fierce because the paratroopers were pretty much massacred as they rowed across the river and this appeared to build a gigantic, towering rage in the men who made it across.  To put it into old, fashioned phrasing, they spared not, but slew.  Those paratroopers quite simply fell upon the German defenders like a thunderbolt and regardless of losses started to slaughter them.  At least for a while there, no prisoners were taken, even though it does appear that the apparition of these American killing machines quickly stunned and actually frightened the Germans, who were in superior numbers.

What does it all mean, this Memorial Day? That we are remembering our dead in war – but I don’t think that really does justice to what is being marked.  Men in war enter into unspeakable terrors and are cut down most horribly.  They may be good men or bad men; men who have lived lives of justice and mercy or men who lived lives of disgrace and perfidy – but when sent into battle, the men become heroes.  Something appears to click within them and all thought of self vanishes in a fierce desire to grapple with the enemy and emerge victorious.  Men who might not have been willing to lend a dollar to a friend will leap upon a live grenade, or distract and enemy machine-gunner, just so his comrades might live, even if only for a few minutes longer.

The soldiers who die in war have lives to live, just as all of us do.  The mere thought of ever being in a position where another man is around the corner, determined to kill me, strikes fear in my heart.  Some how, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines manage to get past that, and get around the corner – to kill, before they are killed.  To fight the enemy.  To put their valiant heart between the enemies of the United States and our people.  Maybe if I had ever been in that position, I would have passed the test.  I only know for certain that the men and women in the graves of our military cemeteries did pass the test; and because they did, very few of us are ever called on to do what they did.

Go on and have the barbecue.  Enjoy the time with family and friends.  That is ok.  It is good that the living go on living – but pause just for a moment some time this Monday and spare a thought for what it means for a soldier to die in battle, and how much you owe them.

 

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12 thoughts on “Memorial Day

  1. Cluster May 25, 2014 / 9:07 am

    I think current foreign events are showing us all how important a strong America is to keep the peace in this world and to all those who have served and given their life in pursuit of that peace, everyone owes a huge debt of gratitude.

    I had a conversation a while back about Putin with an Obama supporter and “progressive” friend of mine and his comment was that there was “nothing we can do” to stop Russia. I mentioned our withdrawal from our arms agreement with the Baltic states as one first misstep, and our reluctance to tap into our domestic crude oil resources as another misstep – two actions of which could have gone a long way in stopping Putin. to which he shrugged off. I then mentioned that we still have the most powerful military in the world, and if we had the will to protect freedom and sovereignty, that we should go protect the Ukraine and win. This comment was met with dismay and disbelief. He stated that he is in no way interested in dying for someone else’s freedom and that most Americans have too lost that will. To some extent, I think he is right. I think the majority of progressives are too self absorbed and hedonistic to see a cause that is larger than they are. I think if it came right down to it, they will not pay the price for freedom.

    • Retired Spook May 25, 2014 / 10:44 am

      To some extent, I think he is right. I think the majority of progressives are too self absorbed and hedonistic to see a cause that is larger than they are. I think if it came right down to it, they will not pay the price for freedom.

      Cluster,
      I think you’re exactly right. I suspect that some Leftists who, if called on the make the ultimate sacrifice, will dig down in their souls and find something they didn’t know they had, but I’d bet the vast majority will curl up in a fetal position and cry for their mommy — or simply hire someone bigger and stronger than themselves to protect them.

      • Retired Spook May 25, 2014 / 11:23 am

        Expanding on my previous response just a bit, I think it’s probably erroneous to say that Progressives “will not pay the price for freedom”, because they don’t look at freedom the same way Conservatives do. I don’t think most Leftists give a rat’s rear end whether or not people who don’t share their views are free. We’re seeing that now, more and more every day, the Left telling us in so many different ways that we AREN’T free to disagree with them — that we either agree with them or be punished. I think your average Leftist thinks, deep inside, that they are special, and they will always be free because they’re special. I really do hope I live long enough to see that mindset proven false.

    • Amazona May 25, 2014 / 11:20 am

      Cluster, this is not exactly a response to your post, but it may have some relevance.

      I just finished a book by a Norwegian author, Jo Nesbo, brilliantly translated from Norwegian into English. It was a fascinating read on many levels—-as a psychological thriller, a thriller-thriller, a murder mystery, and for a peek into another culture.

      What struck me from the get-go was the amount and degree of involvement of Norway in what goes on in the United States. The book is packed with US references. The characters listen to American music, watch American movies, and follow American politics. Sure, the political references are clearly based on the Leftist “news” that dominates Europe and, evidently, Scandinavia, but still, the characters follow American elections.

      As I was reading, it struck me that we not only could but should use this influence for, as they say, good instead of evil.

      For one thing, as much influence as we have abroad, nearly all of it is now based on what people learn from the various media. So we have Hollywood sending out the message that Americans are adulterous, immoral or amoral, greedy, superficial twits. We say to the world “We have no respect for this country, so why should you?” I am not talking about censorship, but it would be nice to export something that does not show us as horrible greedy selfish bigoted hypersexual hyperviolent barely clothed foul-mouthed narcissists.

      It would be a good thing, for us and for the world, to send the message that yes, we ARE strong and powerful, but we take that seriously and as a responsibility, not as a privilege. It would be a good thing for the world to know that there is at least one powerful nation that stands by principles of liberty and freedom and respect for the individual. There is nothing wrong with defending freedom, or protecting the weak, or helping the needy. But the image we are projecting now, because it is very real in this time and place, is that we are weak and spineless, that we cower before our enemies and skulk in the dark to surreptitiously aid evildoers who victimize those they wish to dominate or exterminate, that we lack a moral compass, that we not only do not support the efforts of people to escape oppression but we support those who oppress.

      And that we not only lie, we simply cannot be taken seriously.

      Why were those Americans in Holland? Because although we were resented in much of the world for our wealth and power, the world knew we could be counted on to step up and do the right thing—in this case, to fight against vile and vicious tyranny which had the goals of world domination and genocide. I doubt that we have this kind of fortitude and commitment now, and I am quite sure we are no longer seen as a nation that could be counted on to act with courage or determination.

      As for becoming involved in foreign affairs: If we are going to have a strong military (and yes, I know this has become a big IF) we need to have personnel who are trained and experienced. Military training is by definition dangerous, and people die during training. It is not publicized, but I live near a military base and we in the area know that several people a year die, just at this one location, in training accidents. I think it would be a great benefit to our nation, not just militarily but in terms of understanding the world around us, to have some of this training take place in parts of the world which are so vastly different from ours that they cannot be described. I like the idea of sending tens of thousands of young men and women to places like the Sudan, places where they can EXPERIENCE the results of tyranny and oppression, where they can interact with people from very different cultures, where they can personally experience the rewards of taking risks to help those who need it and the result of improving peoples’ lives.

      I think these would be the kinds of people we will need in the future to lead our country. The idea of the nation being under the control of weak, lazy, arrogant ivory-tower “intellectuals” who have no actual life experience is a very depressing one. (We are getting a very depressing preview of this right now.) For the future of our country, I would like to know that we are developing leaders, and to me this means getting young people into areas of life that demand discipline and exposing them to the realities of what happens when power is uncontrolled.

    • M. Noonan May 25, 2014 / 12:45 pm

      You’re right about that – they will slip into the shackles of a slave and call it freedom. In the larger sense, they already are slaves – slaves to pride and slaves to material goods. If faced with a choice to throw their lives away for real freedom, or be slaves who can at least keep their pride and toys, they’ll bow down before their master.

      • Amazona May 25, 2014 / 1:07 pm

        It’s an illusion of freedom because it is really permission from authority to behave in a certain way, and it carries with it no responsibility. It also depends on depriving others of their freedom.

      • Retired Spook May 25, 2014 / 4:35 pm

        Mark,

        I heard a great quote the other day, and I’ll be darned if I can remember where it was or who said it. I should have stopped what I was doing and written it down, and, as a result, I’m paraphrasing. People were meant to be loved and things were meant to be used. In this current, upside-down world, just the opposite is true.

  2. Cluster May 25, 2014 / 6:29 pm

    A bit off topic but I have heard a lot over the last couple days, mainly from Democrats of course, on how the VA and Obamacare are completely different. I beg to differ. Small differences to be sure, but when the government mandates everything the private insurer must offer, and dictates the reimbursement rates of providers, how is that not government run healthcare?

    • Amazona May 25, 2014 / 7:02 pm

      This disclaimer is based on the fact that the VA is now a single payer system and Obamacare is not. But even as a middleman brokering contracts between individuals and insurance companies Obamacare is a mess, and they have been caught admitting, several times over the years, that their goal is single payer. I take them at their word on this. The only objection from the Left to Obamacare has been that it is not single payer,that it will just delay their goal of getting to single payer, and this has been smoothed over by those who know this is not supposed to be openly discussed as the ultimate agenda.

      The plan has always been, when single payer was not welcomed, to fly the flag of “if you like your plan you can keep it”, etc., and to posture as simply a government mechanism to streamline and equalize private plans and access to them. This has always been transparently false, but it has been the official story and they have kind of stuck to it. But it has always been known that when this unwieldy and complicated system fell apart, and new regulations drove the private companies out of business, the next step would be the move to single payer as it would have been proved that private companies just couldn’t handle the job. They thought they could inch into single payer incrementally, with a little increased federal control here, some more federal intervention there, more and more federal rules and regulations, so the last step would be kind of an anticlimax.

      They just thought it would work long enough for private insurance plans to be completely dismantled and private companies to be completely gone, so single payer would be the only alternative. What they did not expect was that their plan would never even get off the ground, and that the lies would be so quickly uncovered, or that people would react so negatively. I think they were counting on Obama being able to schmooze people, charm them and win them over, because of their adulation of him and his alleged people skills and charisma.

      And I don’t think they factored in the cascade of events proving Obama and his entire administration to be so incompetent, so corrupt, such blatant liars, and just such a complete disaster. Now they are not dealing with just one failed program and a few lies, they are dealing with an unbroken string of spectacularly failed programs and policies and efforts, and an unbroken string of whoppers that no one can take seriously.

      • Cluster May 25, 2014 / 9:24 pm

        The failures, lies and incompetence are so wide spread and so obvious now that soon Democrats will even have to admit it.

      • Retired Spook May 25, 2014 / 10:12 pm

        The failures, lies and incompetence are so wide spread and so obvious now that soon Democrats will even have to admit it.

        Cluster,

        You have a lot more faith in the integrity of most Democrats than I do.

      • Amazona May 26, 2014 / 1:43 am

        You don’t have to have integrity to realize what that smell really is—-and it ain’t Shinola.

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