Friday, November 11, 2011

On The 11th Hour of the 11th Day...

...  The Great War ended:
Captain Harry S. Truman was serving in an artillery battalion of the Missouri National Guard.  He fired his last round at 10:45 a.m. that day.  Finally, after four long years of the worst mass killing in human history, the guns fell silent.  An estimated ten million had died in the great war.  Then, at last, "all quiet on the western front."
That night, Harry complained that the men of the neighboring French artillery battalion kept him awake.  They had gotten drunk and each one insisted on marching past Harry's bed to salute him and yell, "Vive President Wilson! Vive le Capitaine d'artillerie Americaine!"
On the German side, Corporal Adolf Hitler received the news in a military hospital; he had been temporarily blinded by poison gas.  He cried bitter tears.  For his courage under fire, Corporal Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross, First Class.  He was recommended for this unusually high honor by Captain Hugo Guttman, a Jew.  (William J. Bennett - America, The Last Best hope, Vol II)   
Today is Veterans Day in the United States, and Remembrance Day in Canada, where we pause on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to commemorate the WW I Armistice. The day has grown into a tribute to all veterans of all wars. 

This year we lost our last World War I veteran, Frank Buckles, and the the cohort of living WW II veterans is dwindling rapidly.

Here is a beautiful musical tribute to veterans by Canadian musician Terry Kelly. It is unabashedly patriotic, whether you're Canadian or American, and don't be surprised if it brings a tear or two. I know I can't help it, especially when that line of veterans appears out of the past.

35 comments:

Alligator said...

I'm not a vet myself but many in my family served and are continuing to serve. God bless our veterans. Thank you for all you have done.

dmarks said...

Mind if I quote your Herman Cain assessment in my blog post?

smithsk said...

My grandfather was a veteran of World War One.

I liked your snapshot of history of both sides in the first paragraphs.

Thank you vets.

Silverfiddle said...

Dmarks: Sure! No prob!

smithsk: William Bennett is a great writer, and his "America, The Last Best Hope" is an excellent and breezy walk through American history.

I'd be interested in Alligator's assessment since he is a historian.

Divine Theatre said...

When I was 13 yeras old I met a WW I Veteran in a doughnut shop. I recall the meeting so vividly.
He told me the story of Flander's Fields. He was 98 years old but I could see him travelling back through the years as he told his story. I listened carefully to every word.
I have taught my daughter to honor our Veterans. I had small cards made up, which merely say "Thank You Veteran". We have handed out more than 2,000. When we see a veteran, as identified by a ball cap or license plate...t-shirt, etc, she hurriedly asks for a card and runs to the gentleman. She stands still and says "excuse me sir".
When he looks she juts out her little hand and says, "Thank you for serving our country."
We will never for get the sacrifices of people like you, Silver. Thank you. Happy Veteran's Day.

Andie

conservativesonfire said...

A moving tribute. Thanks for sharing it. God bless our vets!

Z said...

"a pittance of time for us"...after what seems an eternity for our soldiers in extreme heat or cold..etc etc.
Thanks for this; an important reminder. terrific video/song

I yelled out my car window on Tuesday to a female reservist walking nearby .."thanks for your service!" she responded so quickly, with so little surprise "Thank you!" I like to think she gets that a lot.
I hope so.

Jersey McJones said...

It's nice to remember and honor and vets and we always should. And we should remember the 1938 law that created (what was then) Armistice Day: "...a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace...," no jingoism.

But, oh God.... I'm sorry but that song... ugh...

JMJ

Finntann said...

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes 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, choking, drowning.

~Wilfred Owen

The profile picture today is of my Great Uncle Jim 1884-1961

Rode with Pershing against Pancho Villa in the Mexican Expedition.

Fought under Pershing in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel.

Was gassed by the Germens in the Battle of Argonne Forest and left for dead in a ditch. A man in another unit marching by recognized him, thinking to retrieve his personal effects for the family he discovered that he was still alive.

He was rescued and recoverd, but had breathing problems his whole life. He is buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery.

God Bless Uncle Jim and all veterans past and present.

Cheers!

Divine Theatre said...

God Bless Uncle Jim.
My engagement ring is actually the ring removed from a fallen fellow Marine by my husband's father. When he brought it back to the family after his return from Vietnam they wanted nothing to do with it. They were protestors. Their son ceased to matter to them once he went to Vietnam. I wear that ring proudly to this day.

liberaldude said...

Jim DeMint (R-of course) was the only senator to oppose a measure aimed at hiring veterans. "Despite the overwhelm­ng evidence that these tax credits do not stimulate hiring for targeted groups..." DeMint said.

If I might re-phrase that for him:
"Despite the overwhelmi­ng evidence that extending tax cuts for the wealthy does NOT stimulate hiring for ANYONE, the GOP/TP continue to press for extensions and even LOWER tax rates"!!!

Finntann said...

Can't be apolitical for even a day can you?

Leticia said...

My grandfather served in the Navy during WWII and received two purple hearts, I am very proud of him.

My dad served during the Vietnam war.

I thank God they both survived and came home.

No words could ever express my gratitude for the sacrifices are military men and women have done for this nation.

Silverfiddle said...

Liberal dude: Apples and oranges, but thanks for being classless and dragging politics into a non-political post.

Z said...

Silverfiddle, thanks for your service and thanks for your comment to Liberaldude. It seems that some "Americans" just can't bring themselves to honor our soldiers who have fought and died for this country.

DivineTheater...what a story; imagine carrying a political grudge to that extreme. I wonder about the Marine who was carrying that engagement ring with him; do you know more of that story?

FINNTANN: I remember driving through the Argonne Forest area while living in France, seeing the signs and realizing where I was and what had happened there; my body almost reacting viscerally to it from all the history I'd heard and read in school. "ARGONNE" ! It was actually a kind of emotional thing; like the reaction I had when we were flying over Vietnam to Tokyo..."That's Vietnam below, ladies and gentlemen" ...my eyes were suddenly full of tears and I told my husband how weird that was, that I'd not have expected that reaction! I guess we don't know how much that whole thing meant to those of us who lived through it........I'd particularly like to salute those brave guys who fought in 'Nam and got spat on by the Left.

God bless bless Uncle Jim and the man who found him and saved his life. Thanks for sharing that.

Silverfiddle said...

Z: Your Argonne story reminds me of standing in the Ardenne and visiting Bastogne where my uncle fought in the US Army in WW II.

I've been to verdun and I've walked sections of the Maginot Line, and it gets to you.

Divine Theatre said...

Z, the ring was not an engagement ring. It was a simple silver ring.

ecc102 said...

"liberaldude" is simply trying too hard to get our attention on this day wherein we honor those who are honorable.

Occupy, indeed. Your presence here soils this thread.

Silverfiddle, thank you for taking the time to show such respect to our fallen Veterans. It matters.

Finntann said...

I had the privilege of getting to know an old WWII veteran before he passed. He was an artillery officer and had earned 3 purple hearts.

He didn't tell stories on his own but would answer questions if asked. I remember fishing out the stories of his three purple hearts. The first resulted from him being shot in the leg, the second from a piece of shrapnel in the shoulder from counterbattery fire, the third he mumbled into his drink. What was that? I asked... He had gotten shot in the ass as his gun crew abandoned their position as they were overrun. He wasn't too proud of that, but got his entire crew out safely and was the only one wounded.

His daughter took him back to France in 92 or 93 and said it was the most depressing trip she ever took. He remembered almost everything, but knew all the places by where people he had served with died. To him the French countryside was dotted with Bill died here, John died here, Ted died here. Sad really.

God Bless ya Red!

Anonymous said...

Lanarkshire Mill Pond - December 1913

Heavy bundled sweaters dwarf the child within,
Jaunty caps obscure each face save giant grins,
Two cousins balance on their skates,
Link mittened hands and pose
Mid glide in the cold Scottish winds.


A brilliant radiant Edwardian December,
Proud grandfather skating backwards
Points his new Christmas camera
To catch young lads and carefree smiles
Skating in the brisk Lanarkshire air.


Six months to the day, a vast continent away:
Mistaken chauffeur driving backwards,
Gavrilo Princip points a borrowed pistol
To catch minor royalty and feint-grins
Waving in the sultry Sarajevo air.


Heavy brutal bombardments decimate battalions,
Once-jaunty teenagers from mill towns and crofts
Huddle in torrid Turkish trenches, link quivering hands,
Recall when younger joyful hands had gathered purple heather,
“Queen daisies growing in the tall red grass…
And bluebells tossing in transparent fields.”

Before going over the top. Up, up
An exposed rocky cliff in remote Gallipoli.

~ Kathy Sanderson Zwick

“I came back with an idée fixe – never again should men be made to suffer as in these years of war.”

(Annals, 89) Hugh MacDiarmid - 1918


Submitted by FreeThinke

Ducky's here said...

All I know is that the da had his ship hit twice near the Philippines, twice he was picked up from the water but it wasn't something he talked about.

I remember he kept the skull of a Japanese soldier in the china cabinet(no lie) and a shot of him in front of the cowling of a downed Zeke.

He swore he'd never visit France until my step mother made him visit. He loved it.

Turned real antiwar during Vietnam and started me on my socialist education at the Catholic Worker house. Something had happened to him back in the South Pacific but he kept it in.

Anonymous said...

Everyone should take a moment or two to read the remarkable life story of Frank Buckles, the last surviving WWI veteran who died this year at the age of 110. SilverFiddle has it linked above in case you didn't notice.

Irony of ironies he was eager to see action in the First World War, but had a relatively light tour of duty and returned home unscathed. In the Second War, however, he was trapped in the Philippines as a 40-year-old civilian, and had to spend 39 months in a Japanese prison camp.

His calm, stalwart attitude towards duty, honor and country throughout his entire life seems almost incredible in this careless, cynical, self-indulgent age.

From the handsome picture taken in his great old age, he seems to have lived a blessed life full of quiet contentment.

I hope his great example is never forgotten, and that young people today may learn from it.

~ FreeThinke

Silverfiddle said...

@ Ducky: Turned real antiwar during Vietnam and started me on my socialist education at the Catholic Worker house. Something had happened to him back in the South Pacific but he kept it in.

If being in a war doesn't turn you anti-war, nothing will. God bless your dad.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for quoting a portion of Wilfred Owen's most famous words, Finntann, but it might have had greater impact and made his intent clearer if you had posted the entire poem, which is not so very long.

Owen was killed in a hailstorm of machine gun fire towards the end of the war at age 25 and wrote all of the great anti-war poetry for which he's justifiably famous in a brief 15-month period.

DULCE ET DECORUM EST

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs,
And towards our distant rest 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
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!--An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim through the misty panes 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, 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
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori
.

~ Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

A good deal of information about Wilfred Owen and the times in which he lived is available at the following link:

http://www.warpoetry.co.uk/Owena.html

In case anyone doesn't know, Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori may be translated: It is both sweet and proper to die for one's country. The hideous irony of the title is inescapable.

~ FreeThinke

Finntann said...

That was probably a lot more common than most people think, Ducky. One summer in High School I worked for a general contractor who had fought in WWII and retired from a police force somewhere.

One afternoon we stopped at his house and he went to the basement to find some tool or another. He returned with the tool and a box he wanted to show me. Inside, was the skull of a Japanese soldier.

The story was he was patrolling on a beach littered with corpses, heard a sound behind him and spun around, incidentally decapitating the Japanese soldier that had risen up behind him with the bayonette on his rifle.

They had cleaned the skull and he had sent it home to his wife with a note warning not to open the box until he got home.

Makes one wonder how many horrors one must see before getting to that point.

Bless them all for what they went through for us.

Z said...

Verdun...me, too, Silverfiddle, now that you mention it; and it really DOES get to you.
Been to Gettysburg? That's very moving, too.....the emotions catch me by surprise.
Normandy is a whole other experience and just as moving.
The German cemetery not far away is a surprise..who knew the French would give beautiful land to the German in which to bury their dead right after WWII? Over the entry into that cemetery are the words "Here lie soldiers many of whom did not pick the cause or the fight"
Choked me up every time I saw it...particularly choked up my husband who lost his German father in a plane accident while he was perfecting autopilot. But I guess talking about German soldiers isn't the thing for today :-)

liberaldude said...

5 Reasons Veterans are part of the 99%

1.) Veterans Deserve Economic Justice: Thousands of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are finding a grim job market. Veterans who served since 9/11 experience a 12.1% unemployment rate, which is higher than the national average, while one in three male veterans are jobless. Recent reports have showed that the number of homeless veterans is surging, while there are insufficient job placement programs.

2.) Veterans Embrace Occupy Wall Street Out Of Love For Country: A growing number of veterans groups are enthusiastically embracing the movement. Although some are demonstrating against a terrible economic conditions, many are doing so out of simple patriotism. Thousands have marched near Zuccotti Park and at other occupy encampments with a message about taking their country back from the grip of lobbyists and predatory financial institutions. One iconic sign, held by a veteran at Occupy Wall Street, summed up the sentiment: “Second time I’ve fought for my country. First time I’ve known my enemy.”

3.) The Banks Are Preying On Veterans: Big banks have found ways to rip off and ruin the men and women who placed their lives on the line for this country. According to a recent whistleblower lawsuit, some of the nation’s biggest banks, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and J.P. Morgan Chase, “defrauded veterans and taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of dollars by disguising illegal fees in veterans’ home refinancing loans.” Fly-by-night scam for-profit universities, many of which are owned by Wall Street investment banks, heavily target veterans with fraudulent educational programs. While military families struggle to get by all over the country, defense contractor CEO’s earn as much as $19 million a year.

4.) K Street Domination Of Government Means Defense Money Goes To War Profiteering Corporations Over Veterans: America spends more on the military than most of our rival nations combined. Yet much of that money, because of the influence of defense contractors and other private military interests, is spent on expensive weapons we never use instead of on rank and file soldiers. Revolving door lobbyists, who go from the Pentagon to K Street firms, have secured over a trillion in wasteful spending to companies like Lockheed Martin.

5.) During The Economic Downturn, Veterans Programs Are Being Cut And Privatized As Well: As Republicans and their allies have succeeded so far in pushing an austerity agenda of massive government cuts, veterans have also been targeted. According to a recent analysis by Military.com of a CBO study outlining suggested cuts, Congress is debating proposals to cap military basic pay and limiting veterans health benefits. Notably, the Defense Business Board is also considering a move to privatize the military pension program, swapping it out with a 401k system. If there is another crisis on Wall Street, veterans could lose see their retirement benefits wiped out if such a system is put in place.

Z said...

liberaldude, back to cutting and pasting....especially from your 'progressive' sites!

The hole in your pasted theory written by someone else is that the 99% includes all of US, too....and thousands of vets. But, good try :-)
I was sorry to see it was a veteran who committed suicide yesterday at an OWS event....among the other 3 deaths. Drugs, rape, urinating on cop cars and doorsteps; that's no vet I ever knew.

Silverfiddle said...

Liberal dude: Were this an ordinary blog, I would delete your stupid leftist propaganda. thank you for stinking up this non-political thread with your communist propaganda.

Veterans do not stand with the OWS pigs and they sure as hell don't need you solidarity, so shove it where the sun don't shine.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Z, for pointing out that the references LD gave us apply not only to veterans but to the entire population. It distorts the picture to emphasize only one small part of it that appears to support a certain agenda.

Nevertheless, I think it's not right to criticize someone for using material that "someone else" wrote, as long as credit is given where it's due.

Finding articles, statistics, quotations from notable figures, pieces of literature, etc. and sharing them when they enrich and support whatever message one wishes to wish to impart is a perfectly legitimate, time-honored practice. If done honestly, it should clarify and enliven the discussion.

On the other hand perpetually resorting to shallow, emotional,knee-jerk reactions, empty, ingratiating approbation, and the reiteration of standard cliches and shibboleths tends to deaden it.

Cheerio!

~ FreeThinke

liberaldude said...

Silverfud; Were this an 'ordinary blog,' the truth would not be trounced upon so casually and insults thrown, rather than facts, at those exposing the hypocrisies of the right.

Watch and see how the vets will join OWS when they return to find our corrupt GOP has sold their futures to the 1%.

Silverfiddle said...

Liberal Dude: Were this an 'ordinary blog,' the truth would not be trounced upon so casually and insults thrown, rather than facts

Yup. That's your modus operandi: leftist propaganda, lies and insults.

People on the left hate the military, speak of soldiers condescendingly and infantilize them, and now you need their solidarity to add some credibility to your socialist rabble. Aint gonna happen.

Just the way you talk about military people shows your gross ignorance.

Here's a tip: Anybody says they are veteran, I need to see some proof. This same shit happened during and after Vietnam. Every homeless bum and drug addict was supposedly a vet. Yeah right.

Takeoff Junior, you're stinking up the place.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I neglected to post this on 11/1/11, the day it was written, but better late than never:


It's 11/11/11 today,
A unique event in our lives.
Please make a note, and shout Hurray!
Then pray that our world survives.


~ FreeThinke

liberaldude said...

Silverdiddle said: "...People on the left hate the military, speak of soldiers condescendingly and infantilize them."

That's such stupid Fox News BS. I served and I'm a liberal. What proof do you want? I was drafted in the last lottery to call to duty. I was number 56 out of numbers 1-150 called that year. I joined after I got my draft notice to delay entry for a few months. It was 1972. I was in the US Army Security Agency and my MOS was Administrative. I had Top Secret Cryptographic Access and my highest rank was Spec. 4.

So go ahead and call me a liar and make fun of my service. The right loves to be mean and stupid like that.

Silverfiddle said...

I did not say there were no liberals serving. McChrystal voted for Obama!

What I did say was: People on the left hate the military, speak of soldiers condescendingly and infantilize them."