Thinking About Those Who Give All

Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t think that Trump’s comments to the widow – if they were accurately reported – were offensive. I can just imagine my father saying pretty much the same thing had I died during my Navy service. I’ve read some comments from some veterans claiming to be offended and I’m not going to call them wrong for viewing it that way, but for me and the veterans I know, it was just a thing to be said. When we signed up, we all knew it was possible. To be sure, we all thought, if it came to combat, “it’ll be you and you and you, but not me”, but we also knew that the reality could be very different.

And it all got me thinking that we’re taking the whole thing of death a bit the wrong way. We all, as Shakespeare said, owe God a death. We hope to have our line of credit extended indefinitely (as Manchester in his autobiography about his war experiences put it), but death does come for us all in the by and by. And I think that, these days, we get entirely too maudlin about death.

I’m not thinking we should get all Spartan about it – “come home with your shield, or on it”; was what Spartan mothers would say to their sons going off to war – but, perhaps, a bit more Roman?

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods.”

Or another view, similar, which I’ve quoted here years before:

Now, God be thanked Who has matched us with His hour,
And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping,
With hand made sure, clear eye, and sharpened power,
To turn, as swimmers into cleanness leaping,
Glad from a world grown old and cold and weary,
Leave the sick hearts that honour could not move,
And half-men, and their dirty songs and dreary,
And all the little emptiness of love!

Oh! we, who have known shame, we have found release there,
Where there’s no ill, no grief, but sleep has mending,
Naught broken save this body, lost but breath;
Nothing to shake the laughing heart’s long peace there
But only agony, and that has ending;
And the worst friend and enemy is but Death.

That was Rupert Brooke, written as he went off to World War One. He got his death, and while very sorrowful for his many friends, it was still a glorious thing and he a man worthy of honor and remembrance. And I think that a lot of our people who seem ill at ease around death are those “sick hearts that honour could not move”. People who shrink from any real sacrifice – whether it is the sacrifice of merely having children and being decent parents; the sacrifice of keeping at a dreary job because one has responsibilities…or the sacrifice of one’s life in a cause.

I am getting old, now; not quite old, yet – but getting there. There is more time behind me than in front. I have done many things to be ashamed of, but there are a few things I’ve done which please me. I’ve kept my promise in some things, that is – and one of them was to be a Sailor in the United States Navy. Had I died as a young man in the Navy, I’d likely be nearly forgotten by now. Decades would have passed; my parents are now dead. My brothers and sisters would, at times, be reminded they once had a brother who is no longer there…but I wouldn’t be much more than a fleeting memory; a life cut short on this Earth. But, for all that, we are all doomed to be forgotten on this Earth. Whether one believes in the religious or the purely materialistic view of the world, eventually everything we do here becomes less than a memory here. We who have religion believe there is something much greater beyond this world, but even we believe that this world is doomed. You can take one of two courses of action in light of this: to either greedily grab on to every bit of life you can, or to merely try to do the right thing by others, even if it means you die and they go on. To those who greedily grab on to life, the fact that a life is cut short is the worst crime. To those who take the other view, it is the life that is poorly lived, long or short, which is the worst crime.

It is terribly sad for us – especially as we grow older – to see a young person die. Even for those of us with religious belief, there seems to be something very wrong in a young person, so full of promise, to be taken away from us. But there is something else to ponder about those who die young:

Right you guessed the rising morrow
And scorned to tread the mire you must:
Dust’s your wages, son of sorrow,
But men may come to worse than dust.

Souls undone, undoing others,-
Long time since the tale began.
You would not live to wrong your brothers:
Oh lad, you died as fits a man.

Now to your grave shall friend and stranger
With ruth and some with envy come:
Undishonoured, clear of danger,
Clean of guilt, pass hence and home.

Turn safe to rest, no dreams, no waking;
And here, man, here’s the wreath I’ve made:
‘Tis not a gift that’s worth the taking,
But wear it and it will not fade.

That is from A Shropeshire Lad – which is not exactly what I’m looking for, but it does address the issue of whether death is the worst thing which can happen. A man (or, these days, a woman) who goes to war is doing an act of sublime self-sacrifice. This is especially true in our modern age where we do not conscript people into war (and God grant we never do, again). That young man or woman who dons our nation’s uniform may have all sorts of bad in him or her. But by putting their lives on the line, they are balancing that bad – and if they do end up giving their life for their country, then they have carried out the greatest love of all, that a person should give his or her life for their friends. C. S. Lewis pointed out that had he, in his World War One service, shot a German in the same instant the German shot him, they’d both probably have wound up in heaven and had a good laugh about it. At such a moment, a person’s selfish desires are at their lowest ebb and their willingness to sacrifice to save others at the highest pitch. And as we must all die, why is this the worst way to die?

I would, of course, that all the young people today could live to a hundred and during their long lives have nothing but the blessings of peace, love and prosperity. But we all know that won’t happen. Even in the best of our lives, there is pain. And, at the end of it, death. We should avoid war because it is wrong to kill. But some times it becomes necessary to kill in order to defend what we hold most dear. And if we have to kill, it is certain that some of ours will be killed. To feel sorrow at their deaths is natural and beautiful – but to take their death and keep it separate from their courage is wrong. They, I think, would not want to be merely remembered as those who died, but as those who did something very special.

25 thoughts on “Thinking About Those Who Give All

  1. Amazona October 20, 2017 / 1:06 am

    Even before General Kelly talked about what he and the President discussed, before Trump’s call to the widow, I didn’t find the comment “he knew what he was getting into” offensive or disrespectful even if that is what the president said. To me, it was high praise—it was acknowledging that the fallen soldier chose to defend his country. He volunteered. It was a choice, and a noble choice, and it was acknowledged as such.

    General Kelly talked about what he heard in the conversation, and what he and the president talked about before the call was made.

    “In his way (he) tried to express that opinion — he’s a brave man, a fallen hero, he knew what he was getting himself in to because he enlisted,” the four-star general said. “He was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken.

    “That was the message. That was the message that was transmitted,” he added.

    Kelly recalled what Gen. Joe Dunford, now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told him when his son died in 2010.

    “He said, Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1%” of people who choose to defend the country. “He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war,” he said. “When he died, when the four cases we’re talking about, Niger, my son’s case, Afghanistan, when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth, his friends. That’s what the President tried to say to four families the other day.”

    I think it is understood that there was literally nothing the president could have said to the anti-Trump grieving mother. overheard by the attention-seeking Trump-hating Congresswoman, that would not have been spun to be horrible and insensitive and hateful. That is what people like this do. As General Kelly said, he thought such a conversation between the president and the mother should have been private, and I think the blatant effort to politicize this young man’s death is as ugly as Cindy Sheehan’s clambering over her son’s casket to get into the spotlight. These people have no shame.

    • M. Noonan October 20, 2017 / 1:51 am

      They really don’t – and I was shocked that anyone could be so gross as to blab about a private conversation between the President and the mother of a fallen soldier. But such is our times – and the worst of it is that these Progressives whining now don’t really give a darn about the troops. When they aren’t complaining about things like this, they are calling our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines war criminals.

    • Amazona October 20, 2017 / 10:32 am

      What stuns/discourages me is that i haven’t heard anyone defend the statement (whether it was made or not) that the fallen soldier knew what he was getting into. That knowledge is what makes his sacrifice special.

      Think of the first responders who went into the World Trade Tower, facing horrible threats to their very lives. They were not passive bystanders who happened to die in that tragedy. They were not forced (conscripted) into service. Certainly the deaths of people who did not volunteer are tragedies, not to be dismissed lightly. But special honor should be given to those who “knew what they were getting into” and volunteered to serve anyway.

      To acknowledge that a soldier “knew what he was getting into” and chose—CHOSE—to volunteer anyway is the highest form of praise and admiration for a noble act.

      To not only politicize the death of a man who had this courage but to try to use it to attack the man who was praising him is beyond despicable.

      • Cluster October 20, 2017 / 2:15 pm

        To acknowledge that a soldier “knew what he was getting into” and chose—CHOSE—to volunteer anyway is the highest form of praise and admiration for a noble act.

        100% agree and that is how I interpreted the message to begin with. But leave it to the dishonest, amoral, and agenda driven Democrats to politicize it. They are not honorable people and we need to treat them as such…..

        Have you seen that the POS Congresswoman who politicized this is now smiling ear to ear thinking she is a “rock star”. Let’s defeat them at all costs. We all know what we are getting into.

      • Amazona October 20, 2017 / 3:21 pm

        You have to love what Kelly said about this POS another time she hijacked a solemn memorial service to strut in front of the spotlight—it’s always the empty barrels that make the most noise.

      • Amazona October 20, 2017 / 4:21 pm

        Wilson has to be truly delusional.

        OK, forget about the hats. They are so silly, she has to be delusional to keep wearing them. The hats themselves are OK, but they are so tiny on her big fat head that they just perch on top, and the effect is truly bizarre. Yet she seems to think she looks pretty darned cool, and keeps wearing them, Admittedly, her head is so huge she might not be able to find hats that fit, but still..

        No, it’s the strutting and grinning as if she is a superstar, as if she is admired for her crassness and lack of class.

        And, of course, there is what she seems to think passes for a witty reponse.

        Wilson gave a cryptic response to reporters following Kelly’s speech that baffled Baier and Goldberg who were discussing Kelly’s comments.

        “The dog can bark at the moon all night long but it doesn’t become an issue until the moon barks back,” Wilson said.

        I’d characterize he loonyness as more like howling at the moon, but bow to what is apparently her personal knowledge of meaningless noise aimed into the void.

        Who are the moonbats who vote for her?

      • M. Noonan October 20, 2017 / 11:45 pm

        There’s a lot of people on the Dem side who, I think, are just ciphers – people put into place by the Powers That Be because they can be relied upon to vote as they are told. I think Ms. Wilson is one such…but she wanted to get famous. This is how she choose to do it.

      • M. Noonan October 20, 2017 / 11:55 pm

        On Twitter I’ve seen defenses of it – and some reasonable attacks on it. The bottom line, for me, is that it is a true statement. Outside of that, I think that how people view Trump is coloring their view of this incident. Those who are devoted to him are hitting back, hard. Those, like me, who understand where he’s coming from, are tolerant, even when he does go off the rails (which I don’t think is the case, here). Those who hate him are just getting all frothing at the mouth…and that is getting more and more common among both Progressives and Never Trumpers.

        OTOH, I’ve seen reports which claim a net gain of GOP voter registration in PA of 100,000 since last year’s election…and other gains in other key States. I don’t know for sure if all of that is true – but if it is true, it is in line with my expectation: more and more Democrats are abandoning the party as it goes further left. This is masked by the Democrats’ continued dominance in the MSM which makes it appear that the Democrats are just slightly out of it at the moment and that Trump mistakes will hand it all back to them over 2018 and 2020. It could be that way – but I suspect it isn’t because, seriously, what rational voter wants to put back into power people like Pelosi and Schumer? As the Dems go all “resistance”, I think it just works to convince middle of the road voters that, for all Trump’s flaws, he’s better than the Democrats…and, furthermore, if you’re ticked off at the Congressional GOP – especially the Senate – then the answer to break the logjam isn’t to send Democrats to power, but to send even more Republicans. If I’m right, then 2018 will come as a complete shock…which Democrats and Never Trumpers will ignore because “it’s just a mid-term year”, and then the gigantic shock will come in 2020 when Trump is re-elected with about 55% of the vote and 334 Electoral votes.

      • Retired Spook October 21, 2017 / 8:34 am

        I don’t know for sure if all of that is true – but if it is true, it is in line with my expectation: more and more Democrats are abandoning the party as it goes further left.

        In reality, the true, ideological Left only makes up about 20% of the population, so I suspect your expectation is probably reasonable. I think most Americans are decent people, and you don’t attract decent people with nastiness and condescension. I also don’t think you attract people with tired, worn out ideas that have never worked with the promise that “this time will be different.” I think the Dems are going to learn that in spades in 2018 and 2020.

      • M. Noonan October 21, 2017 / 2:56 pm

        We’ll certainly find out. Fortunately, you and I are two old bunnies (you just a tad older!) and thus won’t get too excited about it even if we’re wrong.

        I think that, broadly, most Americans are willing to let the odd be odd – San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles…”fine: be that way. But we aren’t putting up with you forcing us to approve it”. But the Democrats are on a trajectory where they are insisting that everyone be forced to approve. I think that the Boy Scouts allowing girls to join is kinda the last Progressive icing on the cake. What moved them to do such, I can’t say – other than the obvious: Progressives have gotten in charge and thus don’t want to go to meetings and parties and be the only Progs who haven’t wrecked an American institution. But the announcement was met, as far as I can tell, by a huge bunch of, “are you kidding me?”. Its merely absurd – if girls can join Boy Scouts, then what is the point of having Girl Scouts? If all men are horrible – and that is the Progressive assertion – then why in heck do you want to push girls into a place filled with boys?

        This sort of thing is just making people exasperated, and I think it will come out in a nearly uniform rejection of the left over the next couple election cycles.

      • Amazona October 21, 2017 / 2:44 pm

        Spook, I agree with you…most who vote Dem don’t do out of any deep ideological conviction. We have seen here how few (as in next to no) Libs have the slightest idea of the political philosophy they are supporting, as they flock to the polls to vote for (in their minds) issues that have emotional appeal to them.

        I think those who aren’t drawn in by the promises of fairness, equality and social justice are voting against instead of for—-against perceptions of racism, injustice, etc. Just look at the huge percentage of black voters who vote, year in and year out, for candidates in the party that fought to continue slavery, fought to defeat equal rights, and still represent racism in its policies and behind-the-scenes private discussions. They will continue to put a dingbat like Williams in office, year in and year out, though she is an embarrassment to her state, her constituency and her race, because they think they are voting AGAINST —fill in the blank. Trump, racism, white privilege, whatever.

        My question to those who vote for her is simple: “Is this really how you want people to think of YOU? Because this is who you chose to represent you, and her antics reflect back on you.”

      • M. Noonan October 21, 2017 / 3:04 pm

        On Twitter the other day, this guy retweeted a declaration by a blue-check black activist of some sort (blue check means you’re verified as the true person by Twitter…generally, it seems you have to be super famous or immensely stupid to get the check mark) – the response to the activist tirade (which was a slam at Trump/Kelly over the Hat Lady’s thing) was along the lines of, “you know, this whole Mad Black American thing just isn’t impressing us anymore”. And it’s really not – we’ve had “racist” shouted at us so long that we don’t even care when they shout it. It has, at long last, lost it’s sting. Hat Lady is doing the Mad Black American thing and while Progressives are lauding her as some sort of hero, most people of the non-left are just making fun of her (and those costumes she wears are just too juicy a target…I like V the K’s take over at Gay Patriot: “she dresses like she doesn’t have a single gay friend”).

        At this point, here in 2017, racism just doesn’t functionally exist any longer…the DNC/MSM has to dress up a few hundred kooks out there Master Racin’ as if they represented something other than a few con artists making an easy buck off of fools. I thank Obama for this, actually – with his election, it became impossible for anyone other than an insane Progressive to say that America is racist. It just isn’t possible. Oh, sure, they’ll keep it up – what else can they do? It’s not like the race-baiters are capable of holding down a real job – but it is just sound and fury signifying nothing.

      • Cluster October 22, 2017 / 9:02 am

        I think a lot of folks who have vote Dem in the past have done so as a result of the effective lies and mischaracterizations spread by the Democrats campaign and repeated ad nauseam in the MSM – to which every GOP candidate seemed incapable of fighting back against ……UNTIL TRUMP. Democrats and particularly the press are apoplectic right now primarily because conservatives are FINALLY fighting back. Every single lie, distortion, half truth, and mischaracterization on behalf of the MSM and their political arm, the Democrat Party must be exposed, challenged, and ridiculed. All day, every day.

      • Amazona October 22, 2017 / 1:13 pm

        “she dresses like she doesn’t have a single gay friend”…or a mirror.

      • Amazona October 22, 2017 / 1:28 pm

        Another comment on the success of Semantic Infiltration—-have any of you noticed the inevitable coupling of the words “white” and “nationalist”—-to imply that being a nationalist means being a white supremacist?

        I am a white nationalist, and proud of it. That is, I am white, as white as white can be if there is a touch of melanin in your body, a step above albino. Slav and Celtic do not a dark-skinned person make. I almost glow in the dark.

        I am also a nationalist. What does that mean? To me, it means that I not only love my country, I think it is the best country in the world. I am grateful every single day that this is the nation of my birth, and feel blessed.

        I am also coming to the conclusion that the American identity must be preserved, as it represents the best of humanity’s efforts to govern itself.

        We are constantly barraged by platitudes, which we are supposed to accept as wisdom and truth, and I find that I am increasingly resistant to them. Take the one claiming that the more people who vote, the better. On the surface, that sounds reasonable, sounds as if the nation will be a better one if more people are involved in the governmental choices. But further reflection says that when uninformed people vote, based on their susceptibility to propaganda or to promote malignant agendas based on harming the nation, they harm the process, not contribute to it.

        Another is the claim that “diversity” is, in and of itself, by definition, a good thing. I disagree.

        I think that if a nation has a distinct identity, based upon a distinct attitude as laid out in our Constitution, and if that identity and governing document have proved to be more successful than any other national identity and any other form of government, it is rash and foolish to dilute or erode that national identity.

        We became stronger when we accepted people who wanted to become part of that identity, and in that case “diversity” was a plus. We embraced people from around the world, each bringing a bit of his or her culture into our own, and that enriched our country. But while these immigrants brought with them bits and pieces of their own heritage and culture, they also chose to become part of ours, creating a hybrid vigor that made us all, the natives and the newcomers, stronger and better.

        But the new form of “diversity” means allowing different ideologies to undermine our own, chip away at our own, dilute and pollute our own, until we are in danger of not having a national identity at all. I think that will be a great loss, not just to the United States but to the world, because when we stop being us there will be no place in the world for people to see as a refuge or a pathway to freedom and prosperity.

        So yes, I am very white. And yes, I am a nationalist.

        And no, I am not a “white supremacist” or a racist or a xenophobe or any of the other slurs hurled at people who defend the Unites States.

        We just let the Left get away with this constant barrage of semantic infiltration, until their twisted version of reality is accepted by everyone as a fact.

      • Amazona October 22, 2017 / 2:17 pm

        So when are blacks going to call out Freddy for “cultural appropriation”?

        Offhand I can think of two classes she is offending by appropriating their apparel—cowboys and clowns.

  2. Cluster October 21, 2017 / 9:23 am

    Tucker says it best:

    • Retired Spook October 21, 2017 / 11:01 am

      Tucker does a great job of ridiculing the Left.

    • Amazona October 21, 2017 / 2:47 pm

      He is what is wrong with this country

      No, the fact that he has been given a public platform from which to squeal his ugliness and insanity is one symptom of what is wrong with much of the country.

      There may be some who are outraged that Kelly did not show “empathy” for Williams but I think most think any empathy or sympathy should be for the widow, not for the person who hijacked the event to make it all about HER.

      • Cluster October 21, 2017 / 3:38 pm

        I watched this segment and wanted to jump through the tv and beat the living daylights out of him. Larry was actually telling his audience that “empty barrel” is a well known racial slur amongst the “white neighborhood that he (Kelly) grew up in”. This is dishonest, inflammatory, irresponsible, and dangerous rhetoric …… but it persists on the left and they continue to get away wth it. NO MORE. I am one fed up conservative who has taken the gloves off and is ready to brawl with any leftist who preens around on their self perceived moral high ground. They are all scum and seemingly getting worse by the day.

      • Amazona October 22, 2017 / 1:45 pm

        Didn’t you love it when Freddy the Freeloader claimed she looked up “empty barrel” in the dictionary and yes, it is defined as a racist term? Even she kind of faltered at the end of that statement, as she realized how utterly stupid it was.

        Really, is there ANYTHING the Loony Left won’t define as “racist”? If they can’t actually pretend that a word or phrase is racist in and of itself, it is suddenly a “dog whistle” cluing people in to hidden, encoded, racism.

        Back to the “empty barrel” having a sinister, racist meaning. I am fascinated by the insistence of the race pimps that anything even remotely negative has to refer to someone of color. They seem oblivious to the fact that they are the ones projecting negative images onto the races they pretend to be defending.

        I’d love to hear Larry give some examples of the use of “empty barrel” as a racist term. “Hell no, I ain’t playing football with an empty barrel on the team!” “No daughter of mine is going to date an empty barrel!” “Turn off that damned rap noise—that’s just for empty barrels!” “No empty barrels allowed.” “An empty barrel just moved in next door—-there goes the neighborhood.” “Empty barrels need not apply.” “I love doo-wop. Those empty barrels sure can sing!” “That empty barrel, Michael Jordan, sure can play basketball.”

        Here’s a fun game—watch “Blazing Saddles” and substitute “empty barrel” for every reference to a black person. I’ll start off with “the empty barrel is up!”.

      • Cluster October 22, 2017 / 3:24 pm

        LOL…. Larry is as bad as they get. He even tried to equate himself with Gen. Kelly at one point saying “the America that Gen. Kelly and I grew up in, empty barrel was a well known racial slur….” – I will say this, you couldn’t even carry Gen. Kelly’s jock strap Larry. Gen. Kelly is 10 times the man you are, and the America he grew up in was one of honor, integrity, and sacrifice, which is a far cry from the snot nose whiny, victim based America you grew up in Larry, so please do us all a favor and just STFU!!!!

        The only conclusion I can draw from all of this racial hysteria amongst the left is that they must actually believe that the white people are superior. Why else would they rush in to defend the slightest offense against minorities at every opportunity? Why do they constantly speak of “white privilege”? Why do they campaign every year on the injustices inflicted upon minorities by the “white ruling class”? (These are rhetorical questions)

        Democrats truly believe that without government assistance and legislative support, minorities in America are defenseless against white people. I had no idea how much power we have.

  3. Amazona October 23, 2017 / 11:51 am

    I’ve argued with Liberals who have tried to claim that no Christian should disagree with government welfare programs because of Christian teachings about charity. My argument has been that nothing in the Bible supports the concept of collective salvation, that we are each responsible for our own, including our own charity toward others, and that no, taking someone else’s money and then giving it away does not qualify as redeeming charity.

    Peter Heck evidently wrote an article in the same vein, and was taken to task by ”… former Obama staffer Michael Wear, a progressive Christian who works to bridge the gap between evangelical Christians and the Democrat left.”

    Heck addresses his conversations with Wear, and Wear’s tap dancing and straw man arguments are so typically Progressive I thought I would link the article.

    ” Unsurprisingly he (Wear) took exception to my piece, calling it “slander” and “reprehensible.” While it was nothing of the kind, I chose to engage Michael and express the premise of the article that no one on the side of the Gospel of Jesus confuses government confiscation and redistribution of property with Christian charity.

    Michael responded with what can only be described as Obamaesque misdirection:
    “Sorry, Peter, no one on the side of the Gospel of Christ confuses an ideological position on politics with faithfulness to Jesus.”

    Those of us who have tried to engage Progressives in rational debate can commiserate with Heck, as he details the slippery and evasive misstatements of what he said and the relentless effort to change the subject to argue against what was never said.

  4. Amazona October 23, 2017 / 7:41 pm

    There is a philosophy that believes that we, on a spiritual plane before being born onto this one, choose the life and death we think will offer the best opportunity for spiritual growth—sometimes for us, sometimes for those close to us who might learn from how we live, or die. I am intrigued by this idea, and also find it comforting.

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