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Veterans Day – Remembrance Day

Tolkien in the Lancashire Fusilliers

Today is the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day marking the end of WWI. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars.

Flanders Field is the poem that we all learned in school but I prefer this one:

For the Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known

As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,

To the end, to the end, they remain.

JRR Tolkien enlisted and fought in WWI along with several of his best friends. Of that experience he wrote:

One has personally to come under the shadow of war to feel fully its oppression; but as the years go by it seems now often forgotten that to be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than to be involved in 1939 and the following years. By 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead.

The war made me poignantly aware of the beauty of the world.

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38 Responses

  1. Republican party, the preferred political party of the military, law enforcement, and so on… but the WH squatter is done for the day, his press office has called the lid, meaning he is not going to Arlington cemetery. Apparently, he didn’t go there last year either. A man who does not know the word, sacrifice but he still has Republican supporters at this point.

    • Well, it is like 2 miles from the White House. Surely you don’t expect him to undertake such an arduous journey just to commemorate people who risked (or even lost) their lives for the country!

    • My grandmother’s brother drove a Red Cross mule-drawn ambulance onto the battlefields of Britain during World War One. One day, his co-driver was hit in the face by a piece of shrapnel. He died instantly. Granduncle Bert suffered shell shock. But with hospitalization and care, he recovered completely and lived to be 80yo. Our veterans deserve such care. I’m glad they have a voice in Senator Duckworth.

      • My grandfather, along with every other member of his (all-male, of course) class at the University of Illinois, abandoned his studies and joined the Army when the US entered WWI. He was in the cavalry, and brought with him the sabre used by an ancestor of ours in the Civil War (an M1840 “wristbreaker”, for those who care about such things) – I think that was the last conflict in which the US fielded actual, horse-mounted cavalry. He emerged unscathed (thank God).

        He and the surviving members of his class graduated in 1920 or 1921, I think. I still have the sabre.

      • They deserve better.

      • My paternal grandfather, who arrived at Ellis Island in April of 1908, was also a mule train driver. He would have been 31 yrs. old at the time the US entered WWI. The only picture I have of him as a relatively young man is one of those panoramic photos of his entire company. It was taken at Camp Grant.

        If any remembers watching MASH and hearing Col. Potter mention Camp Grant, it was a real place. The WWI buildings were latter torn down and the land was used for what is now the Rockford (IL) International Airport.

  2. This is an amazing graphic at the devolution of the Republican party, and rejected by rational minded people.

  3. DULCE ET DECORUM EST(1)
    Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
    Till on the haunting flares(2) we turned our backs
    And towards our distant rest(3) began to trudge.
    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots(4)
    Of tired, outstripped(5) Five-Nines(6) that dropped behind.
    Gas!(7) Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
    Fitting the clumsy helmets(8) just in time;
    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
    And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime(9) . . .
    Dim, through the misty panes(10) and thick green light,
    As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
    In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
    He plunges at me, guttering,(11) choking, drowning.
    If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud(12)
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest(13)
    To children ardent(14) for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
    Pro patria mori.(15)

    • The first time I read this poem was in English Lit class my freshman year in college. Vietnam was still in full swing, and it really hit everyone in class (even me, though I was only 16 and not yet draftable).

      I wonder if Cadet Bonespur ever read it.

      • trump is such an anachronistic (?) figure. He does not belong to the history that most of you have lived in and with. He does not understand Europe for the same reason. Decades from now, the next generation will wonder how such a country as this could elect such a shallow flawed person to this highest office.

  4. A searing poem, Sue. The Germans violated the Hague Conventions by using poison gas. They claimed that the French had done it first, which may have been true to a literal extent in one instance, but the Germans used poison gas on a far larger scale, and used more deadly types.

    I have thought that WWI was a horrifically stupid thing, set in motion by various crowned heads of Europe in the late 19th century, and their obsession with treaties and alliances, which led to an irrevocable march toward war when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed. No one wanted this war, except possibly Germany. Many millions died. Should America have even been in the war? I had thought probably not, but I did the other day read the text of a presentation David Frum made at a conference a few years ago. I am certainly not a fan of Frum’s politics, but he is undoubtedly a serious scholar. He strongly argued that had American not entered the war, Germany would have won some kind of victory, allowing it to be the preeminent power in Western Europe, with dire consequences for peace and democracy. How those would have been more dire than what actually happened: the rise of Nazism and Fascism and the horrors which it engendered, is a subject for debate, I suppose. There is no question that WWI was a dreadful thing, a nightmare for all who fought in this four and a half year horror of trench warfare and poison gas over what settled into about six miles of ground.

    I am far from any kind of expert on that era, but I for anyone who wants to know more about the prequel, I would strongly recommend Barbara Tuchman’s “The Proud Tower,” and then “The Guns of August. And a wonderful TV miniseries, “Fall of Eagles,” about the machinations of the crowned heads of Europe in the last half of the 20th century, which set the stage for WWI. And a movie “Birdstong<" which I saw on PBS, was not great as an interpersonal drama, but very notable for the very intense scenes of the trench warfare and the tunnels..

    • The Fall of the Dynasties: The Collapse of the Old Order: 1905-1922 by Edmond Taylor is also pretty enlightening particularly about the run-up to the Great War.

    • I think that you are right about the alliances between the Empires and when the assassination occurred, these alliances came into play.

      There was an interesting book, published in 2013, entitled “The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance That Changed the World.” The Austrian emperor Franz Joseph, and his chief aide, were very rigid in court etiquette. When the heir apparent fell in love with a noblewoman who they considered of too low a rank, they forced Franz Ferdinand to accede to a morganatic marriage with her so that any of their children would not be able to inherit their father’s titles and rights. The book hints that the Emperor Franz Joseph may have sent them to Sarajevo at the time of a Serbian commemoration as a way of ridding himself of Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. The book covers what happened to their children and up to modern day.

      The Treaty of Versailles after the was was so onerous and punitave to Germany that with the Great Depression, it made it easy for Hitler to come to power.

  5. Ha, if it was deemed a military activity and it is found trump aided them with it, would that be called TREASON?

  6. Thread. I was asked when I used to frequent Althouse, by a moderate commenter why I like Hillary despite all the stuff that is out there (this was in the beginning of 2016) and I had told him that I listen to what people who know her directly say and filter out everything, especially stuff that comes from the RW nutjobs. Of course, I was annoyed with her email faux pau because she gave ammunition to those fuckers. But always listen to people like Joe Conason and others. Never the MAGA Maggies and other females at NYT. Althouse and women of her generation were not impressed with her because she married BC and that gave her a leg up in their view. But if a couple are equally qualified, why should the man/woman give up his/her turn altogether just because they are married? The women saying ‘not this woman’ lacked the generosity to ask that question and answer candidly. And, notice here that they are trying to hurt the woman with their stupid logic.

  7. Something is afoot in DC… maybe why trumpy is grumpy.

  8. Oh God, the media people are all waxing poetic about Michelle Obama… Kimberly Atkins whom I like, started to say that MO upstaged Hillary a bit at the convention in 2016…. and I changed the channel. The unfairness of it all gets me every time. Fuck them all!

    • Michelle Obama gives the kind of speech that the media likes. Oprah does, too, and Beto. Hillary does not; Hillary is an extremely gifted expert on political and social matters, who would have been a great president if she had been allowed to govern without being carped at by her own party for not being Demosthenes or Martin Luther King. I always would prefer an very competent and caring person as president; if I want fiery oratory. I can watch movies. It is nice when someone who is excellent in grasping and working on issues, is a wonderful speaker, but it is pretty rare, even though most people seem to start with the latter and hope for the former, like those who go after the best looking person, and then hope that they turn out to have good qualities.

      • Amen

        • Looks like Sherrod may run! Would he too easily be painted as too liberal, too pro-union? He’s probably close to where I stand on most issues, but I don’t know if the country is, though his continuing to win in Ohio is certainly a positive. I’d prefer him to just about all of the current names mentioned.

      • Totally agree, but what I don’t understand is why Hillary gives such beautiful concession speechs and writes such gracious, poignant personal notes. She has the words.

    • I feel the same way.

  9. Good… we have a new AZ Dem senator! McSally conceded.

    • A good win, we are better than the 45-55 it looked like for much of last Tuesday night. A better chance to win four Senate seats than six, though it is going to be difficult. I note that McSally conceded in a video with her cute dog, undoubtedly done to help her get appointed to the Kyl seat, from which she would run in 2020.

  10. Well, if I’d known that RD was going to post a Veterans’ Day thread, I would have waited to post this on this thread.

  11. Now does the media and others see why Hillary went after Arizona? She knew and if only people had done their part then that they did now. I guess they needed the kick in the butt that was Agent Orange. Complacent mfers.

  12. Go Maryland! Leading the way…

  13. Gordon Lightfoot, being a folk singer at heart, wrote topical songs. In 1971, he wrote “The Summer Side of Life” about the young men who go off to war.

    A few have posted it on You Tube. One person who posted it, did it as a tribute to the fallen and the survivors.

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