Duty, and Honor

So this happened, as it should have.

Professor Williams is, of course, correct. But there is more to the story, and what it entails. First Fergus died at Loos, that horrible battle that also cost Rudyard Kipling his only son, not to mention almost 60,000 more British casualties in four days.

At the time of the battle, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, then 14 years old, was helping her mother to prepare the family home (actually castle) Glamis for use as a convalescent hospital for men wounded in the war. His death (and his brother being on the missing list) devastated her mother, and much of the work of the conversion fell on her shoulders, even to the point of fighting a fire in the castle with some help from the soldiers. I wrote about her here and quoted one of her mottos: Duty Is the Rent You Pay For Life.

I’m quite sure that duty was in her mind when she placed that bouquet on the tomb of the unknown warrior in 1923. She had just married the younger brother of the Prince of Wales, who as Edward VIII would be forced to abdicate the throne in order to marry his American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. (That may have been judging by subsequent events one of the main reasons that the allies won the Second World War) and so she became the Queen. She was a paragon of duty to her people during the war, during the Blitz when it was proposed to evacuate her and her children Elizabeth and Margeret to Canada. Her reply was this.

“The Princesses will never leave without me. I will not leave without the King and the King will never leave,” 

In fact, it appears they intended to go down hard. In addition to learning how to drive and repair trucks, as soon as she was old enough.

Princess Elizabeth, now the Queen, firing a Lee-Enfield at small arms practice during World War II.

I am also reminded that in November of 1921, that same unknown warrior received a singular honor, one never before and never since granted. Let’s let the American Ambassador tell us about it.

“By an Act of the Congress of the United States, approved on March 4 of the present year, the President was authorized “to bestow, with appropriate ceremonies, military and civil, a Medal of Honour upon the unknown unidentified British soldier buried in Westmister Abbey.” The purpose of Congress was declared by the Act itself, in these words: “Animated by the same spirit of comradeship in which we of the American forces fought alongside of our Allies, we desire to add whatever we can to the imperishable glory won by the deeds of our Allies and commemorated in part by this tribute to their unknown dead.”

The Congressional Medal, as it is commonly termed because it is the only medal presented “in the name of Congress,” symbolizes the highest military honour that can be bestowed by the Government of the United States. It corresponds to the Victoria Cross and can be awarded only to an American warrior who achieves distinction “at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty.”

A special Act of Congress was required to permit the placing of it upon the tomb of a British soldier. The significance of this presentation, therefore, is twofold. It comprises, in addition to the highest military tribute, a message of fraternity direct from the American people, through their chosen representatives in Congress, to the people of the British Empire.

It was placed on that tomb by the second senior American officer in history, (Washington is, and always will be the senior American general) General of the Armies John. J. Pershing, saying this:

One cannot enter here and not feel an overpowering emotion in recalling the important events in the history of Great Britain that have shaped the progress of the nations. Distinguished men and women are here enshrined who, through the centuries, have unselfishly given their services and their lives to make that record glorious. As they pass in memory before us there is none whose deeds are more worthy, and none whose devotion inspires our admiration more, than this Unknown Warrior. He will always remain the symbol of the tremendous sacrifice by his people in the world’s greatest conflict.

It was he who, without hesitation, bared his breast against tyranny and injustice. It was he who suffered in the dark days of misfortune and disaster, but always with admirable loyalty and fortitude. Gathering new strength from the very force of his determination, he felt the flush of success without unseemly arrogance. In the moment of his victory, alas! we saw him fall in making the supreme gift to humanity. His was ever the courage of right, the confidence of justice. Mankind will continue to share his triumph, and with the passing years will come to strew fresh laurels over his grave.

As we solemnly gather about this sepulchre, the hearts of the American people join in this tribute to their English-speaking kinsman. Let us profit by the occasion, and under its inspiration pledge anew our trust in the God of our fathers, that He may guide and direct our faltering footsteps into paths of permanent peace. Let us resolve together, in friendship and in confidence, to maintain toward all peoples that Christian spirit that underlies the character of both nations.
And now, in this holy sanctuary, in the name of the President and the people of the United States, I place upon his tomb. the Medal of Honour conferred upon him by special Act of the American Congress, in commemoration of the sacrifices of our British comrade and his fellow-countrymen,and as a slight token of our gratitude and affection toward this people.

And so now, this grave has been decorated by an American Princess, now a Duchess, as she enters into what to many looks like a fairytale world, but is, in fact, a world that few of us would care to make our life in. It is a world of duty paramount, to do the right thing for the right reason. And that, in fact, is what caused the abdication, Edward VIII’s unwillingness to place his duty above his personal happiness.

The Duchess of Suffolk joins a distinguished line of American women, who in marrying British nobility, have strengthened both countries, Jennie Jerome, Winston Churchill’s mother, Lady Astor, the first woman to serve in Parliament, and now Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Suffolk. May God give her the ability to see the right, and the ability to do right.

 

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About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

3 Responses to Duty, and Honor

  1. Reblogged this on Boudica2015.

    Like

  2. the unit says:

    Imagine this American woman following protocol, and not doing something like groping the Queen like a certain recent FLOTUS did!
    At least deserves a bumper sticker (from your first line) This Happened, instead of one that would be deserving of the other lady. That sticker being S_ _ t Happens. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Quite so! 🙂

      Like

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