Duty Is the Rent You Pay For Life

article-2625548-1DBD495E00000578-350_634x498There are some words that have gone out of fashion. Duty, Honor, Integrity, and Responsibility are among them. Why?

I think it is mostly that we have had it too easy, and we have been encouraged to do only what is necessary, not what is right, or to do our duty. We, and our countries are much the poorer for it. We have often talked here about the generation that won World War II, and undoubtedly shall again. But their older brothers and fathers were perhaps of even sterner stuff. That generation that fought the Great War have nearly been forgotten, and they shouldn’t be. They may well have been the real ‘Greatest Generation’.

In truth the British casualties in the Great War compared to the population at somewhat less than 2 % wasn’t all that horrible, in the American Civil War the ratio was about 3.5% and many estimates of the English Civil War were about 4%. But soldiers come from the working class while in the Edwardian model, the officer corp came from the educated upper classes, and do remember the divide was much wider then than now.  The British army lost roughly 12% of its effective soldiers, but and here is the kicker, it lost roughly 17% of its officers, Eton lost more than 1000 alumni, 20% of those who served.

Those men were leaders, who took their duties seriously, they died leading their men. They were quite likely the best of Britain, for instance UK wartime Prime Minister Herbert Asquith lost a son, while future Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law lost two. Anthony Eden lost two brothers, another brother of his was terribly wounded, and an uncle was captured, Rudyard Kipling lost his only son. We’ve seen this before but let’s look at it again.

Noting as I have before that all three of them were convinced Jack wouldn’t return, and very aware that he could have honorably avoided field service, they all thought that it was his duty.

A hard word, duty is.

At the same time, a fourteen year old girl was helping her family prepare the family home for use as a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers, and she too would lose a brother in the war, Fergus was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915 and another brother was on the missing list before they found out he was a POW. Fergus’s death badly affected her mother and she picked up the slack, to the point of even keeping the house from burning down, with some help from the soldiers.

The house castle of course, was Glamis and the girl was the Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. After the war she was one of the most famous and popular of debutantes. But she never in the course of a very long life, lost her bravery and her sense of duty. And we are far better off for it. Because she in fact married the King’s younger son, Prince Albert, and after the abdication in  1936 she became the queen.

And we very famously saw that sense of duty, now to the United Kingdom when she said, when it was suggested that the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret should be evacuated to Canada because of the threat of invasion,The Princesses will never leave without me. I will not leave without the King and the King will never leave,” Of such attitudes are leaders made.

And her attitude never changed. The £ Daily Mail spoke of this saying:

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother’s death was much like her life – full of dignity, grace and the minimum of fuss.

Right up to the end, she showed the same stoicism and pluck that she had displayed through thick and thin for more than a century.

Nothing typified her resiliance more than her insistence last month on travelling 100 miles by helicopter to her daughter Princess Margaret’s funeral. Despite weakness caused by persistent illness, she went against the Queen’s wishes to attend and hid her feelings behind the palm of her hand as she carried out the saddest duty of all – watching a child laid to rest.

For death was something that Queen Elizabeth had never feared. Her steadfast faith, learned at her mother’s knee and which had sustained her through the dark days of the abdication crisis, the Second World War and her husband, King George VI’s premature demise, kept as firm as ever as she prepared to meet her Maker.

Her bravery had always been legendary, shrugging off the excruciating pain that necessitated two hip replacements in her mid and late 90s and the constant discomfort of a leg ulcer that refused to heal. When most people half her age would have thrown in the towel, there she was going about her duties as if she had not a care in the world.

No one to whom she chatted had the slightest inkling of the effort behind the twinkling blue eyes and golden smile as she mingled charmingly among her people. Once in a blue moon, she did confess to occasionally getting slightly tired, but quickly added that the affection that she received from the people she met, from whatever walk of life they came, ‘recharges me, gives me back my strength’.

Queen Elizabeth was born in the reign of Queen Victoria on a summer day so hot that the tar melted on the roads and working horses had to wear straw hats. She was the ninth of Lord and Lady Glamis’s ten children and her arrival on August 4, 1900, prompted so little interest that her grandfather, the Earl of Strathmore, failed to note it in his daily diary.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-107431/Duty-came–last.html#ixzz31RgfojFR

 

I easily think we can all respect that as a life lived in duty to one’s people, and it would be a very good guide to those who think they should lead our peoples today. And yes, the title of this piece was one of her favorite mottoes.

article-2625548-00071F6600000C1D-461_634x435

I also think that I don’t say much more than the truth if I were to call her “The Queen Mother of the Free World” because her courage and steadfastness had very much to do with it being the Free World.

 

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Diamond Jubilee

Our British and Anglosphere friends are celebrating something that has happened only twice in the last 1000 years. The current Queen, Elizabeth II, has been on the throne for 60 years. By the way the other Monarch to make 60 years was Elizabeth’s Great-Great Grandmother Queen Victoria. I would say that’s pretty distinguished company.

Let’s think about this a bit, a Head of State, who has known every US President since Franklin Roosevelt, who technically was under the command of General Dwight Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, who guided the transition from Empire to Commonwealth, has known and worked with every British Prime Minister since Sir Winston, and has even managed to tolerate the slights of Obama without making it a public scandal.

This is a throne that goes back to the Anglo-Saxon dynasty of Wessex, as changed by the Conquest of William the Conqueror, and has rolled down the centuries, nearly always working with the Parliament to safeguard its subjects’ freedom (not always willingly, though).

Her life has been quite remarkable, also. From being an ambulance driver in the Second World War to being snubbed at the 65th Anniversary of D-Day by Obama and Sarkozy, there isn’t much she hasn’t done. I think it telling that in 1940 during the Blitz the Queen Mother famously announced:

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, horrified at the thought of what the Royal Family abandoning its people to its fate, might do to civilian morale, famously declared that:“The children won’t leave without me, I won’t leave without the king, and the king will never leave!”

- Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

Thus even as a child the queen understood the down side of being a Royal, I’m sure that this was reinforced when her favorite uncle Lord Mountbatten was killed by Irish terrorists. I think a bit of Shakespeare relating to one of her predecessors, Henry V, would be in order.

I think it entirely fit and proper for us, as Americans, to salute the Queen on this auspicious occasion, as she has proved to be one of the best friends of freedom the world has seen, as well as the Head of State of the Mother Country of freedom. For we all know that our founding fathers built this country, our America, on the heritage of free Englishmen. There’s not too much to add here, for 60 years Her Majesty has been Head of State of our staunchest allies and friends and so I think it’s appropriate to say sing, “Long Live the Queen”.

Happy Victoria Day

Today is Victoria Day in Canada. It celebrates the birthday of Queen Victoria the “Mother of Confederation”

Soldier’s Tower, Toronto, via Toronto Then and Now

Canucks being Canucks, they’ve been known to drink a bit of beer on Victoria Day weekend, just as we will on Memorial Day. So bear with them, they are great friends. They’re also damn good mates to party with (I speak from experience, I once spent a bank holiday weekend in Plentywood, MT, and it took all week to recover). I also remember dad talking about marching in the Victoria Day parade at Fort Garry, now Winnepeg, when he was young.

But of course we can’t do a post about Canada without a video featuring the Mounties, now can we?

Some Things Last

Coronation portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, June 1953 via Wikipedia

On this day in 1952 King George VI died of a heart attack at Sandringham, leaving his daughter Elizabeth Alexandra Mary officially Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth the Throne. She has as of today reigned for 60 years, at all times showing all the world what a queen should be as the champion of her people.

During World War II, in 1940 when Lord Hailsham suggested that the Princesses should be evacuated to Canada the Queen replied, “The children won’t go without me. I won’t leave without the King. And the King will never leave.” Also in 1940, the 14-year-old Elizabeth made her first radio broadcast during the BBC‘s Children’s Hour, addressing other children who had been evacuated from the cities. She stated:

We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers and airmen, and we are trying, too, to bear our share of the danger and sadness of war. We know, every one of us, that in the end all will be well.

As the Princess approached her 18th birthday she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service where she trained as a driver and mechanic and was promoted to Honorary Junior Commander 5 months later.

On 6 February 1952, they had just returned to their Kenyan home, Sagana Lodge, after a night spent at Treetops Hotel, when word arrived of the death of Elizabeth’s father.

And so she became Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith. She is the fortieth successor to William the Conqueror

And so she has been for sixty years, second only to Queen Victoria.

 

In other news of the Free World, on this day in Tamipco, Illinois was born to Jack and Nelle Wilson Reagan a son, who they named Ronald. He would grow up to become the Great Liberator of Eastern Europe as the 40th President of the United States. Ronald Wilson Reagan, Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath and a member of Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum.

 

Today in History

1440: Ivan III (the Great), grand prince of Russia was born.

Royal Arms of England

1689: The British parliament (a coalition of Whigs and Tories) invites Prince William of Orange to ascend the British throne. Mary is second in succession after the Crown Prince James Francis Edward Stuart, who is being raised Catholic. From this point onward the British monarch is subservient to the Parliament. For this reason it is often cited as the beginning of modern British history. This is the climax of the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 which passed the British Bill of Rights which is a precursor to the American Bill of Rights. It also prohibited Catholics from holding positions in the government, and required the monarch to be Anglican, which requirement is still in effect.

1788: Lord George Byron, English romantic poet was born.

English: "Portrait of Maj. Gen. Ambrose E...
Image via Wikipedia

1863: In an attempt to out flank Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, General Ambrose Burnside leads his army on a march to north Fredericksburg, but foul weather bogs his army down in what will become known as “Mud March.” Pretty much the entire Army of the Potomac gets stuck in the mud. Sideburns are named after Burnside

1879: Eighty-two British soldiers hold off attacks by 4,000 Zulu warriors at the Battle of Rorke’s Drift in South Africa.

1901: Queen Victoria of England died after reigning for 63 years (the 4th longest among longest-reigning monarchs and the longest for queens). Thus did the Victorian Era end and the Edwardian begin.

1907: “Salome”, the Richard Strauss opera, opened featuring the “Dance of the Seven Veils”. Vaudeville performers adopted the dance, as did strip tease performers. Soon thereafter, the Metropolitan Opera House banned performances of the opera.

1905: Russian troops fire on civilians beginning Bloody Sunday in St. Petersburg.

1925:  Noted authors and songwriters appeared before a congressional committee in Washington to protest violations of their copyright privileges by radio broadcasters.

1939: A Nazi order erases the old officer caste, tying the army directly to the Party. This included the officer corp taking an oath making them henceforth personally subservient to Adolph Hitler.

504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

504th PIR via Wikipedia

1944: U.S. troops under Major General John P. Lucas make an amphibious landing behind German lines at Anzio, Italy, just south of Rome. Because of lack of command initiative the opportunity to advance against minimal opposition was squandered, leading to the beachhead being contained until May. Note that this is where the 504th parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82d Airborne won their sobriquet of “Devils in Baggy Pants” from the Germans.

1968: A United States B-52 bomber carrying unarmed hydrogen bombs crashed near Thule, Greenland.

1973: The United States Supreme Court struck down state laws restricting abortions during the first six months of pregnancy. The famous Roe vs. Wade case started the debate about a woman’s right to end her pregnancy or whether an abortion is murder of an unborn child.

1980: Soviet dissident physicist Dr. Andrei Sakharov was arrested, stripped of his honors and exiled to Gorky from Moscow.

Sources:

http://www.historynet.com/today-in-history

http://www.factmonster.com/dayinhistory

http://www.coolquiz.com/trivia/history/

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