August 25, 2015 14 Comments
Is, of course, a very old American maxim. Back when the world was young and I had just met Jess, I used it in connection with a British academic who was irritating her. Jess, being a sensible girl, who loves America nearly as much as I love Britain, proceeded to mutter it at an academic function she attended, about some footless thing that nobody could decide, choice of wine or something like that. Needless to say, it raised a few eyebrows, leading the gentlemen with her to comment about the company she was keeping. Me.
So I’m going to do this story backward. On that train in France the other day, there was a 62-year-old British IT guy, an expat living in the south of France. Now, I don’t know about you but that is not where I’d first look for a hero – but that’s where we found one. His name is Chris Norman He said he thought this:
“I saw someone running down the aisle to the front of the train. I stood up to see what was happening and saw a man with what I think was an AK-47,” he said.
“My first reaction was to sit down and hide. Then I heard an American say, ‘Go get him’. I decided it was really the only chance, to act as a team and try to take down the assailant.
“My thought was, I’m probably going to die anyway, so let’s go. I’d rather die being active, trying to get him down, than simply sit in the corner and be shot.”
“Either you sit down and you die, or you get up and you die. It was really nothing more then that,” he said.
Well, Kipling once wrote that: “A brave heart and a courteous tongue. They shall carry thee far through the jungle, manling.” I hope Mr. Norman will forgive me if I call BS on that. I bet his thought process ran more like this, a toast by American general John Stark of New Hampshire. It goes, “Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.” because Chris Norman is by any standard a hero. He saw a chance to fix something and he took that chance, he didn’t lead, but he followed effectively, not many men would have, especially since we have all seen how docile the Brits have become. The same is true for that off-duty French train conductor. Damned good men, both of them.
But the Americans! Well, I happened to be listening to the BBC when the story broke, arriving with the information that the were marines. Without disrespect to anyone, I thought, of course, later the story changed that it was two soldiers and an American civilian. OK, if you look at the pictures they’re wearing their hair pretty high and tight, so it’s a more or less natural mistake, and besides no leatherneck could have done it any better. Think about that for a minute, a junior Air Force medic, an Oregon National Guardsman, in Britspeak, a territorial, and a civilian friend of theirs, running to the sound of the guns. Are they heroes? You’re damned right they are! It was nearly a perfect anti-terrorist operation. What flight 93 could have been with some more luck.
And that Air Force medic, Spencer Stone, who nearly had his thumb cut off by this thug, still had the guts and presence of mind to provide basic aid to a Frenchman who had either been either shot or knifed in the neck, I’ve read both, don’t know which is true, doesn’t really matter at the moment.
It was once written that:
“The truly amazing thing about me is that, as a product of this amazing country, I am utterly ordinary. However, once I leave the borders of these United States, I start to grow in power and influence until I become someone who can do anything; feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, protect the weak and clothe the shabby”.
And that pretty much applies here, utterly ordinary Americans, until some fool on a French train opened up with an AK, and then, well the adults in the train took over, three young American guys. And from what I read, he’s a lucky terrorist, he didn’t maintain his weapon, and it jammed, so they merely subdued him, instead of letting him tell Allah all about it, and his failure.
Kipling also wrote: “For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack”. And that my friends is why terrorism doesn’t work on free men, it does not account for the sheepdogs, not all of whom wear uniforms.
And gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks that fought with us.
A few years ago, in one of the documentaries about the war in Europe, they interviewed a Dutch woman about the day that the Americans liberated her town.
She stated she knew they were Americans because ‘they walked like free men’.
We still do.