Men of Honor: Forces of Disorder

3rd Infantry Division (United States)

[Am I back? I don’t know,  we’ll find out together. But I happened to glance up at my TV last week, and something struck me, and I want to share it with you]

Last week many of us were semi watching the far overblown coverage of the confrontations/riots/ whatever in Ferguson, Missouri. One of the things we saw was an attempted (judicial) lynching of a law enforcement officer, who was simply doing, according to his beliefs, his job. As always, I’m sure there are some legitimate grievances-on both sides. That’s not my point here.

What I happened to see was the stand-off at the Ferguson Police station, if memory serves, although in truth it hardly matters.

In the street was the usual rabble,many of them concealing their identity, like the cowards they are, behind those contemptible Guy Fawkes masks. They recall the man who set off anti-Catholic feelings in England that were so strong that they are still remembered today.

Now do understand that much of English anti-Catholicism was more political than religious, there was a widespread fear that the Catholics would obey the Pope instead of the King. Likely it was untrue, that is also irrelevant. The closest modern equivalent is likely the way some of us feel about the Moslems (especially the militants) in our midst.

In short, an obvious reference to those who would destroy our civilization.

And there also was the Missouri National Guard, standing at port arms under arms, in good order and discipline, as always. Disciplined defenders of civilization and America. Most of us would say, “The Best in the World”, with justifiable pride in those who represent us.

But something else I noticed, on the right sleeve of an army uniform a soldier is entitled to wear the patch of a unit he served honorably in, in combat. And so it was here, on the right sleeve of one of those young men, who has pledged his very life to us, if necessary, was the patch of the 3ID

3d Infantry Division

 

The third infantry division is one of the army’s most famous units. It earned its nickname in the Great War as ‘The Rock of The Marne” for its valor. The rest of its record is comparable. It is also the unit that performed the run up “Thunder Road” in Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and have no doubt served in both Iraq and Afghanistan since. One of our best.

And there was that patch on the shoulder of that young soldier, once again defending civilization, this time at home in Missouri from a rabble that would destroy it.

But there’s something else here as well, that goes to the very root of who we are. That insignia, if you look at it in the mirror, it is no longer the US 3ID, it is something else.

It is the coat of arms of Lancelot du Lac himself, legendary Knight of King Arthur.

The motto of the US Army is:

This We’ll Defend

Veteran’s Day

I sat down last night to write a post for Veteran’s Day, and I couldn’t think of a single new thing to say. So this is from a couple of years ago, with a few additions, nothing has really changed, has it? That’s mostly because, I suppose, that nothing is really new. Our guys and girls are out there taking care of business, as usual. Our veterans are here amongst us, being taken lousy care of by the VA, just as it has been for a century, and above all, we are very, very proud of them, as we always have been. Simply the best of America. Thank you!! George Orwell reminds us:

We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.

Now, as we observe Veteran’s Day, there is no one to take our salute. Florence Green, a member of the Women’s Royal Air Force, died on 4 February 2012 two weeks short of her 111th birthday, at King’s Lynne. She was the very last veteran of World War I.

And now they’re all gone, the doughboys, Tommies, the Diggers, the Canucks, and the Kiwis. And the men of the Second World War are following swiftly.

These are the men that have kept us free. For this holiday is about brave men, yesterday we talked about how the Unknown British Warrior was awarded the American Medal of Honor. Today I’ll note that five Americans, ranging from Ordinary Seaman to Lieutenant Colonel have won the Victoria Cross, plus the Unknown Soldier buried at Arlington, by order of the King.

The Great War, of course, is when the United States made its debut as the great world power. From our entry in 1917 until today is fairly termed “The American Century” for as the Pax Britannica ended in 1914 and chaos ensued between the wars as we hid in our continent and from 1945 the Pax Americana has been in place.

It could be fairly said that the wars of the 20th Century were the “Wars of Freedom”, for more people have been freed from tyranny by the United States and our allies than at any other time in history.

The legend of American bravery is known worldwide, from the Marine sergeant, who lead the charge at the battle of Belleau Wood, who led the charge with the command, “Come on you sons-of-bitches, do you want to live forever.”( Noting that it is now “Bois de la Brigade de Marine“, in their honor) to General McAuliffe’s response to the German demand to surrender at Bastogne, “Nuts” to the Admiral Nimitz’s comment on Iwo Jima, “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Thus has been remarked the common bravery of American troops in every case in all the wars of these Planetary soldiers.

As probably every one reading this knows, the average American idolizes American soldiers, they have gone from being the unwanted stepchildren of the revolution, because of the mistrust engendered by the occupying British regulars, to by far the most trusted of American institutions, trusted by over  80% of Americans. They have earned it, and earned it the hard way by blood, toil, tears, honor, integrity, and sweat from Lexington Green to Afghanistan they have become legend, at one and the same time, “America’s Army” and the “Army of the Free”. The Armed Forces are the best of America. If you were to ask the common people of anyplace they have been, you will find their fans, maybe not the government, but the people remember.

If you don’t happen to know, those streamers on the service flags are called battle streamers, each of them remembers a battle going back to Lexington Green. It has been a contentious life we have lived, and freedom always has enemies.

But they have done other things, they are often the first humanitarian aid anywhere in the world after a natural disaster, the mapping of the United States was done by the Army, your GPS system is courtesy of the Air Force and the Internet you’re reading this on was started by the US Department of Defense.

But let us not make the mistake many do, it’s not technology that wins wars, it’s men, and now women as well, women like these:

What do you think goes through the minds of women in the parts of the world that don’t offer women equal rights when these women show up in their midst as American officers and warriors? Think maybe some get the idea that women are equal to men.

I’d say things like this have done more to advance women’s rights than all the feminists yelling in the last fifty years. It was the same when the military integrated in 1948, that’s where it was all proved, although we already knew it, really, blacks have served bravely and well ever since Crispus Attucks was killed at the Boston Massacre.

But you know, it’s always had a cost, often a very high cost, and a wise people don’t forget that, no matter the technology, it has to be operated by people and by brave people, from the rifleman to the man who may have to turn the key to unleash Armageddon itself. And in American history, the military has never failed us, even when we and our political leadership has not been worthy of them. Many of us use as a catchphrase a rewording of the last line of our national anthem, instead of  “the Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave“, we are wont to say “The Land of the Free because of the Brave.”

We are also quite content, while not resting in our quest, to be known by the friends we keep.

But sometimes the brave are lost and then we honor our fallen countrymen, as they deserve. Bill Whittle a few years ago had something to say about American Honor, and I’d like you to read it.

On October 7th, 2002, I returned to Los Angeles from Arlington National Cemetery where we’d interred my father, 2nd Lt. William Joseph Whittle, who died from what may have been sheer joy during a fishing trip in Canada.

My dad served in the US Army in Germany, from 1944 through 1946. He was an intelligence officer, and was responsible for recording the time of death of the convicted War Criminals at Nuremburg after the war. He saw them hanged — he stood there with a stopwatch. He was 21 years old.

My father spent two years in the U.S. Military. He spent a lifetime in the corporate world. After twenty years as a world-class hotel manager, turning entire properties from liabilities into assets, he was let go without so much as a thank-you dinner or a handshake. Twenty years of service. He was a four-star general in the corporate world for two decades, and that was his reward.

Monday afternoon, at 1 pm, I stood underneath the McClellan arch at ANC. There were 13 family members there. There were also 40 men in uniform. I was stunned.

They took my dad’s ashes, in what looked like a really nice cigar box (what a little box for such a big man, I thought at that moment), and placed it in what looked like a metallic coffin on the back of a horse-drawn caisson. His ashes were handled by other twenty-one year old men, men as young as he had been, men whose fathers were children when my dad was in uniform. Everything was inspected, checked, and handled with awesome, palpable, radiating reverence and respect.

As we walked behind the caisson, the band played not a dirge, but a march… a tune that left me searching for the right adjective, which I didn’t find until the flight home. It was triumphal. It was the sound of Caesar entering Rome; the sound of a hero coming home. It was the only time during the service that I really began to cry.

Continue reading Honor

This is part of that Honor

But make no mistake when we live out Kipling’s poem we dishonor ourselves, nor them:

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy how’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

Remembrance Sunday

poppy2_3001030b

Tower of London

[Many of you who read here, have become friends of ours, and so we like to tell you a bit when things happen our lives. This is one of those notes, Neo.]

This is my partner Jessica’s birthday, although we will unable to wish it to her today, let us remember the good times we have shared with her, and wish her a happy one and many more, better ones.

I have heard from her. She is recovering although it is a slow process, and she is both weak and weary. We will not see her here until at least Eastertide, I think, and perhaps not then. If you missed the story she went to the doctor for what she thought was sinusitis on 8 September and emailed me from the hospital parking lot that the doctor thought he saw another problem. Her last words to me were, “wish me luck-I need it.” Let that be a lesson to you, don’t ask me for luck. That problem turned out to be cancer, and very aggressive one at that. After two surgeries, on the first Friday in October, she received the received the last rites of her church. Those of us who love her were very close to despair, although we all put our trust in God. Nor were we disappointed, that Sunday she awoke from her coma without pain and without cancer.

But one doesn’t go through such an ordeal without re-evaluating your life, and that is part of what she is doing now. And I freely admit that I am praying (perhaps selfishly) that she will choose to return to us. That is in her hands, and God’s. Judging by how many of you are still reading her articles here, every day, many of you join with me in that prayer.

One doesn’t go through watching a dear friend, whom one loves, go though such an ordeal without effect either. I have spent most of the last two months worrying about and praying for her, and have rather shamefully neglected you. I won’t say I’m sorry, because I’m not. Jessica is the most wonderful and caring friend I’ve ever had, and the thought of losing her devastated me, and more than a few times 2 Samuel 18:33 was in my heart and prayers.

I’m going to begin trying to post again, although I’ll make no promises, it will be a day-to-day thing. And I’m going to do something that 3 months ago, I would never had considered. I am going to ask you to pray for Jessica, and for those who love her as well.

MERCIFUL God, and heavenly Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men; Look with pity, we beseech thee, upon the sorrows of thy servant for whom our prayers are offered. Remember her, O Lord, in mercy; endue her soul with patience; comfort her with a sense of thy goodness; lift up thy countenance upon her, and give her peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast promised to hear the petitions of those who ask in thy Son’s Name; We beseech thee mercifully to incline thine ears to us who have now made our prayers and supplications unto thee; and grant that those things which we have faithfully asked according to thy will, may effectually be obtained, to the relief of our necessity, and to the setting forth of thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer


In all the English speaking world, except the United States, today is Remembrance Sunday, which is more connected than you might think to the first part of this post. Jessica’s ex-husband was a serving army officer, in fact, he was in Afghanistan when I met her. And while we will celebrate those of ours on Tuesday who survived to return to us, they will commemorate those who did not.

In her post The Thin Red Line she reminded us of the other victim’s of war, saying this:

But there’s bound to be a divide between civilians and the military in times of peace when you have a professional army. Although the analogy with Monks might raise an eyebrow or two, there is a parallel (no, not that one).  Soldiers live a life apart. They are trained to do things which ordinary people don’t do, and probably don’t want to do. There has to be a high level of commitment, and at times the dedication to duty means that a soldier puts everything else to one side. Although no soldier’s wife worth her salt would dream of saying so, we all wait in terror for the knock on the door or the telephone call from the CO. Every time we kiss and wave good-bye, we know that for at least one of us, it is the final good-bye. And if your marriage doesn’t come to that honorable end, well the stress and strains on your man and marriage may make it come to another sort of end. The price soldiers pay to serve us all is huge.  But they also serve, who only stand and wait – and love.

Like Memorial Day it was instituted to remember those brave men who died in the service of their country, and like Veteran’s Day it is on 11 November, because it was instituted to commemorate the end of the Great War, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918. It’s also Feast day of St. Martin of Tours, the patron saint of soldiers. Like a distinguished British historian told me once, “It’s always the war to end all wars, until the next one.” I’m very afraid he was right.

But it is very proper for us as Americans to remember our cousins who died in the wars of the twentieth century, they fought at our side for the same ideals. Please join me in remembering their sacrifice.

It should also be remembered that on 17 October 1921, General Pershing presented, pursuant to a special act of Congress, the US Medal of Honor, in the name of the people of the United States, to the Unknown British Warrior in Westminster Abbey, the only time it has been awarded to a non-American in a foreign service.

Remember them

Be Strong, and of Good Courage

FVhF8GUBack many years ago before the real beginning of the modern world, back in the heady days not long after Henry VIII had turned England from being an adjunct of Europe to looking out on the world, not long after the Battle of the Solent where Henry beat of Francis I’s French fleet, and lost the Mary Rose. Not long after the smaller although more famous Armada attacked Elizabeth and she beat off the last attempt to re-catholicize England by force. Not long after all these earth-shaking events, Sir Walter Raleigh said.

“Whoever commands the sea, commands the trade; whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself.”

Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz reminded us of those words on the day of his retirement as Chief of Naval Operations of the United States Navy.They were true when Raleigh said them, indeed they were true when Athens defeated Sparta, when Rome defeated Carthage, when Nelson triumphed at Trafalgar, when Nimitz triumphed at Tokyo Bay. They are true today.

When you look at HMS Victory in Portsmouth, or when you look at USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, or USS Constellation in New York you are looking at an artefact of world-wide power, and the reason that the world is mostly free.

The best definition of a superpower is this: A superpower is a country which is able to exert great force far from home. By that standard, there have been two, and only two in modern history, the British Empire, and the United States, and in many ways they have become indistinguishable, to the world’s benefit.

All the others have been able to exert great force, but only regionally. Spain, France, Germany, and now Russia in Europe, and Japan and now China in Asia. They are all regional powers.

For instance, Britain has fought four wars in Afghanistan, Germany and Russia have never fought a war outside of Europe. Britain fought a war in China, America fought Japan all across the Pacific both victoriously

Since that day in 1588 when Medina-Sidonia passed beyond the chance of success, some would say the day when the Golden Hind returned from its circumnavigation, the seas have been ruled by the English Speaking peoples. The modern world has been created by the singular fact that anywhere in the world, at any moment, the situation could be controlled by the militaries of first England and then the United States, and increasingly by both, joined by Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

This is why the world speaks English, this is why the common law is enshrined in so many countries. Indeed this is why the world is as modern as it is.

If you were an Islamic Imam striving to keep your seventh century world intact, would you hate people like these?

Americans energetically pursue commerce, science, medicine, technology and the arts. When these designs are halted by conflict, they energetically pursue absolute, decisive, and ruthless destruction of their enemies. After visiting violence and securing victory they energetically return to the pursuit of commerce, science, medicine, technology and the arts. (from Great Satan’s Girlfriend)

Great Satan, indeed, if your mission is to enslave your followers in the seventh century, because deep in your bones you know your slaves all want to go there, especially all those women and girls you’ve been enslaving and mutilating for millennia. And how uncouth is it when your wonderful warriors are scattered all over the landscape–by a girl. Sometimes, it is good to be hated. Many Nigerian blacks in the nineteenth century hated both the British and American Navies for taking away their living, by ending the slave trade.

Mahan famously said that Napoleon was defeated by “Those distant, storm-tossed ships, never seen by the Grande Armeé, were all that stood between it and world domination.” He was right. And as it was for Napoleon, so it was for Hitler and Tojo, separated by the beleaguered Empire forces in the Levant and the Burma-India theater, and so it was for the Soviet Union, which received its death notice from a young American president in October 1962, when its ships turned back from Cuba.

And so it is today, as the révanchist forces of Islam and Imperial Russia attempt to confront the free world. It is simply a matter of time and will before they, like all enemies of freedom are first contained and then destroyed by free people. The only way for us to lose, is to give up. They will kill many and cause much damage but history says that they cannot win.

Unless we let them.

The Honorable Daniel Hannan had some questions for us last weekend at CPAC

First published on 10 March 2014

The Immortal Memory

The Battle of Trafalgar by J. M. W. Turner (oi...

Image via Wikipedia

The British Empire got it’s start as a Tudor Enterprise as Henry VIII established the Royal Navy and as men increasingly saw how England could challenge Spain on the sea. Britain was well placed for this as an island off the coast of Europe. And so St Vincent made the now famous remark: “I do not say, my Lords, that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea.” And so it has always proved. And part of that was one of the Earl of St. Vincent’s protegé. This is his story.

I’ve referred several times to President Jefferson’s open letter regarding the return of Louisiana to France from Spain, where he commented that “on that day we shall have to marry ourselves to the British fleet and people”, and later commented “that from that day forward France shall end at her low water mark”. This is the day that France (and Spain) would forever lose control of the sea to Great Britain.

Today is the anniversary of a battle to rank with Salamis, with Waterloo, and with Yorktown. For today the English speaking peoples with their concepts of individual liberty and rights took control of the sea.

That battle is Trafalgar. The battle was fought off of the south-west coast of Spain between the British Squadron with 27 Ships-of-the-Line and the combined French and Spanish fleets with 33.

The Franco-Spanish fleet was under orders to sail for Brest to help accomplish the invasion of England, which was, by far, Napoleons most steadfast enemy.

Remember these were sailing ships, completely dependent on the wind. and at Trafalgar there was very little. The French and especially the Spanish were short-handed and had to fill their ship’s companies with soldiers. The British on the other hand had been blockading the coast for years and had been drilled mercilessly. Their commander, himself, had not been off the flagship for more than two years.

Alfred Thayer Mahan in his classic The Influence of Sea Power upon History puts it this way: “Those distant, storm-tossed ships, never seen by the Grande Armee, were all that stood between it and world domination.

And so today, in 1805, the battle was joined. The British had the weather gage, and a very unusual plan. Because of the light wind they would divide their battle line in two, with each squadron approaching the Franco-Spanish line at an acute angle. With a well-trained enemy, this would have been nearly suicidal but, under these conditions it allowed the British to engage the entire fleet and win the battle in a single day.

The British were under the command of a man who had had his introduction to naval war in the American Revolution, he fought in several minor battles off Toulon, was integral in the capture of Corsica, was captain of HMS Captain at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. At the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, he lost his right arm, he won a decisive victory over the French at The Battle of the Nile and against the Danes at the Battle of Copenhagen.

At Trafalgar the British fleet went into battle with this signal flying from the flagship:

That flagship is, of course, the HMS Victory, which is now the oldest naval ship in regular commission in the world.

HMS Victory

HMS Victory , HM Naval Base, Portsmouth

The Admiral in command is Horatio, Lord Nelson.

Or to give him his full name:

Admiral Lord Nelson

The Most Noble Lord Horatio Nelson, Viscount and Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, Baron Nelson of the Nile and of Hilborough in the said County, Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Vice Admiral of the White Squadron of the Fleet, Commander in Chief of his Majesty’s Ships and Vessels in the Mediterranean, Duke of Bronté in the Kingdom of Sicily, Knight Grand Cross of the Sicilian Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit, Member of the Ottoman Order of the Crescent, Knight Grand Commander of the Order of St Joachim

as it is inscribed on his coffin in St. Paul’s cathedral, for he was killed by a French marine during the battle.

The first tribute to Nelson was fittingly offered at sea by sailors of Vice-Admiral Dmitry Senyavin’s passing Russian squadron, which saluted on learning of the death.

King George III, upon receiving the news, is reported to have said, in tears, “We have lost more than we have won”.

And the Times reported:

We do not know whether we should mourn or rejoice. The country has gained the most splendid and decisive Victory that has ever graced the naval annals of England; but it has been dearly purchased.

And so tonight in the Royal Navy and the Commonwealth navies, and at least in some places in the United States Navy and even in other navies and places will be drunk the one naval toast that is drunk in total silence:

The Immortal Memory of Lord Nelson and those who fell with him”

The traditional music to follow the toast is: Rule Britannia.

In a remarkable coincidence, the other remaining warship of the period USS Constitution was christened on this day in 1797 at the Boston Navy Yard. While HMS Victory is the oldest ship in commission, USS Constitution (nicknamed “Old Ironsides”) is the oldest warship still afloat and able to sail on its own. Victory is in permanent drydock.

A Defense Department of Lawyers

I’m chary of Bill O’Reilly’s proposal to outsource the war on terrorism to a newly formed mercenary army for many reasons. Far from the least is the idea of a semi controlled force wandering around the world, we already have too much of that sort of nonsense. For me, it’s also a bit too reminiscent of the Romans hiring barbarian hordes to fight Rome’s battles.

But you know, Jonah Goldberg makes some good points here. American defense policy has become bogged down in the glut of policy and lawyers in the defense establishment. I’m not sure that it is possible for a soldier who know how to fight a war to succeed in the hierarchy anymore, it’s far more concerned with credentials and degrees than it is with effectiveness.

And that I think may be what O’Reilly is seeing as well, I haven’t read into his plan, I’m instinctively against it but, we need to do something, maybe anything, different. Because when the United States, which is immensely more powerful now, than it was 70 years ago when we defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan and then proceeded to face down the Soviet Union for 50 years, can’t defeat a bunch of lightly armed and indifferently organized terrorists, we have a structural problem.

In any case, here is Jonah Goldberg

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly wants a mercenary army to supply the ground forces in the latest installment of the War on Terror.

And it seems the smart set can’t stop laughing. The Washington Post’s media blogger, Erik Wemple, called it an “insane” idea and suggested that allowing O’Reilly to peddle the idea on CBS This Morning was an “insane departure from that show’s standard.” The whole spectacle, Wemple opined, proved that O’Reilly will “never be much of a thought leader in policy circles.”

It’s true that on the left and the right, O’Reilly’s idea is being scorned fairly mercilessly. That’s understandable on the left. Arguably the most hated host at the most hated news network (in large part because both are so successful), O’Reilly could come out in support of the law of gravity and the usual suspects would run the headline, “Fox Host Supports Law Requiring Babies and Puppies to Fall from Great Height When Dropped.”

Continue reading A Defense Department of Lawyers | National Review Online.

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