Saint Crispin's Day
October 25th is named for twins who were martyred in the year 286, the Christian saints Crispin and Crispinian. The day bore witness to three of the most famous battles in history. The first is one made famous by Shakespeare, the Battle of Agincourt--the victorious English archers of Henry V against the French forces of Charles VI. The second is the 1854 Crimean War's Battle of Balaclava, where British Lord Cardigan led the famous and ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade against the Russians. The final is the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Pacific theatre of World War II, the largest single naval battle in human history, which saw the United States essentially wipe out what remained of the offensive capabilities of the Imperial Japanese Navy. This is a day of warriors, and, as always, the Bard provides the best words for it:
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 a-bed
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.
I had an opportunity to sit and chat for a while with a WWII veteran last week. The old warrior had good humor and a refreshing love for life in his gray years. He told me members of his family had fought in every conflict we have been involved in since the French and Indian War ("including both sides of the Civil War!"). Here's to him and the other brave brothers-in-arms who have risked it all for their countries.
12:37 PM / October 25, 2011