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Veterans Day

I meant to remind us yesterday that it was the 236th birthday of the Marine Corps, but never got to it. Sorry. My USMC Cpl John doesn't need reminding, of course. He even rides his motorcycle like a Marine should, with pride.

Today is Veterans Day.  This Christian Science Monitor points out that some 41 million Americans have served in the US military since 1775; 23 million of them are still alive, of whom 17 million served during a conflict. Thank you.

Someone reminded me of this, from G.K. Chesterton, on courage: "Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. 'He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,' is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. This paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage. A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice.

He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine. No philosopher, I fancy, has ever expressed this romantic riddle with adequate lucidity, and I certainly have not done so. But Christianity has done more: it has marked the limits of it in the awful graves of the suicide and the hero, showing the distance between him who dies for the sake of living and him who dies for the sake of dying." Semper fi.
Categories > Military

Discussions - 4 Comments

That's wonderful. You should post more often.

Is your Marine stateside or overseas at the moment?

Courage is being afraid but doing what is necessary anyway (true fearlessness is psychopathic). That's how heroes are made - a willingness to overcome fear and risk themselves to serve a greater good. When such acts are truly outstanding, we award the CMH, often posthumously.

Having said this, it is important to remember that these sacrifices (and war itself) are sad affairs. Whenever I have visited a military cemetery, I can't help thinking about all those young men whose lives were nipped in the bud. Truly an evil to be avoided when we can.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae

We Shall Keep the Faith
by Moina Michael, November 1918

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

Dr. Schramm,

Hopefully you get this message. I greatly appreciate your thoughts on Veterans Days. Your lessons in political science are greatly missed as well as my time at Ashland.

That time though only a couple years ago seems so far away. I lament that I never took the chance to take your class on Abraham Lincoln and find myself greatly missing the smells and beautiful colors of Ohio in the fall as I prepare for yet another week of long days and short nights in my duty overseas.

As far as the military, The Army Goes Rolling Along, despite the issues back home. So don't worry about us, we are built tough and founded on the principles for which you have dedicated your life... long live freedom!

God Bless you, this Veterans Day!

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