Lafayette, nous voilà!

Crowds cheer US general John Pershing in Paris in 1917 as it is announced that America will join the conflict Photo: GETTY

Today is an anniversary, for a hundred years ago today, 6 April 1917, the United States declared war on Imperial Germany. This marked our entrance into what was called until at least 1940, The Great War. But more it marks the beginning of what has come to be called the American century.

The title of the piece is what General Pershing is supposed to have said later that summer when amidst the adoring French crowd, he stood at Marquis de Lafayette’s grave. More likely it was his aide Charles E. Stanton. It marks the point when the Republic for the first time raised its standard for the freedom of other people rather than directly for Americans.

Winston Churchill said that the Great War and World War II constituted another Thirty Years war. He has a point, but others contend that the two wars and the Cold War constitute what they like to call “The Long War”. That too has merit, for all of these conflicts, spanning around 75 years, constitute an almost constant conflict to keep Europe free. One could argue that it still continues.

For those of us that read history, two (or more) wars this close together tend to be interesting. We can trace the junior leaders of one, as the senior commanders of the next. General Marshal was on Pershing’s staff, General Patton led the first armored force in American history, General MacArthur commanded an Infantry Division. One of the pictures I’ve carried in my mind for years is one I cannot find, it showed MacArthur and Patton standing erect in no man’s land conferring with each other. One can almost hear Bill Mauldin yelling back from World War Two, telling then to lie down, they’re likely to draw fire and get somebody hurt! We saw the same thing with Captain Grant and Colonel Lee (and many others) in the Mexican War.

So many things come from the Great War. Phrases such as “Over the Top”, which referred to mounting an attack out of the trenches, and the western revulsion towards chemical weapons. This was when the Marines got their sobriquet of Devil Dogs, bestowed by the Emperor of Germany, Kaiser Bill, himself, which is why we often write it Teufel Hunden. It is also when Belleau Wood lost its name, it is now  “Bois de la Brigade de Marine“, in honor of the 5th and 6th Regiments of Marines. You can read about it here, even if a then obscure Army Artillery captain thought the damned Marines got entirely too much publicity, That captain was Harry Truman.

Here is the first glimmering of American air power, first in the Lafayette Escadrille, and later in the Air Service, which would grow and in 1948 turn into the United States Air Force.

This is when the First Infantry Division became the “Rock of the Marne”. And on and on. And yet we don’t really study this war much. We were heavily involved but not for all that long, and our casualties were pretty low by the standards of the other participants. It also fits between the two biggest wars in American history, our Civil War and World War II, in both of which we had a much more major role, although one tends to think we were decisive in winning the first war as well.

But the results were decisive, indeed. When we entered the war, Britain was nearly starving, and the financial center of the world had moved from London to New York. France was worn out, Russia was making a separate peace. We didn’t win the peace though, the European allies forced through a victor’s peace on Germany, which would nearly guarantee the rematch. The solution of the end of the Ottoman Empire in the middle east has repercussions to this day, China was unhappy that Japan got some territory from it at Versaille.

This war marks the point where America assumed the leadership of what we call the Free World and started Europe on the downward slope we still see today. It may be a causal factor, because of the casualties that the Europeans incurred, especially in the young leaders.

As early as the fall of 1914, Germany simply couldn’t afford to lose, but they couldn’t win either. France and Britain weren’t in much better shape, only America was left to influence the outcome, just as in 1941, although it is close to risible to claim that Britain and France were actually fighting for democracy, although they were probably closer to it than Germany was. But, you know, both did become much more democratic because of the war, even if it was an unintended consequence.

A hundred years ago, today, we can see the first vague outline of the world we live in today, the one that America built on the shoulders of the British Empire.

Today was the day that Congress sent the word, and that word changed the world.

Very good article here in the £ Telegraph

 

Welcoming Britannia Home

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, …

And so it is done, and the hard work of making the Mission Statement true begins.

Last Tuesday, 28 March 2017, Prime Minister Teresa May signed the letter invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, giving notice that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union within two years. It’s been a contentious debate since the people were asked. They said pretty clearly, “Let’s get out of here.” After the fall of the Prime Minister who promised and held that referendum, a court case that would have done the sue-happy United States proud, and enabling legislation passed by both houses of Parliament, with the Queen’s consent, the UK has decided to regain its independence.

Many of us here, and in the UK saw the analogy as we came up to the referendum, between the American Revolution, and Brexit, both bore very heavily indeed on the sovereignty of the people. It is a true analogy. But it will also hold in the days, weeks, months, and yes, years to come. Invoking Article 50, like our Declaration is a mission statement. It says we will be our own nation.

We fought a war against the most powerful empire in the world for seven long years, to make it so. The UK may not have it quite that hard, but it will be hard. There are forces, especially in Scotland, that wish to dismember the Union. They control Holyrood, at the moment, although their incompetence at governing is becoming legend, thus they use devolution as a smoke screen to remain in power, as they hurt the people, especially the poor. Personally, I think their time has come, and gone. The Scots are canny people, they can see through this wisp of smoke, and as they said a couple years ago, England and Scotland are better together.

Europe will try to browbeat Britain, of course. Thing is, that’s all they really have. The EU is a crumbling house of cards, with centripetal forces all over Europe trying to tear it asunder. In truth in large measure, it has become a Deutsches Zollverein, as Germany becomes more and more dominant in it. Along, of course, with the autocratic, corrupt bureaucracy in Brussels.

It is, in fact, and partly because of the Union itself, the only market in the world that is not growing. The United Kingdom has very much indeed to offer the world, once it is no longer stifled by Europe. This is, after all, the people that taught Americans to be Americans. Almost all that we are, and believe, comes directly to us from British history. From the power of trade, and the necessity of freedom of the seas, to the evil of slavery, this was our school marm. We learned well, we hope Britain has remembered the lessons, as well.

But you know, the British, especially the English do have form on this, as well. Almost 500 years ago King Henry VIII turned his back on Europe, broke with Rome, founded the Royal Navy and started the adventure that led to the modern world. That was the point where the die was cast, that the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Modern India, Singapore, Hong Kong, and many more would happen. It all dates to that day, 3 November 1534, when Parliament declared that Henry was “the only supreme head on Earth of the Church of England” and that the English crown shall enjoy “all honours, dignities, preeminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits, and commodities to the said dignity.”

That was the day that made 4 July 1776 possible, and I think it possible that 4 July 1776 made possible 28 March 2017. Such are the ways of history. People who have tasted freedom find it good, and are not amused when others try to take it away from them.

And now it is time for us to support the cousins, as they have supported us. Not because we owe it to them, but because we owe it to ourselves. And you know, I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t profitable to us and our economy, as well.

We are very pleased indeed that the United Kingdom will again “ have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.” Although we would be remiss not to remind them that it is a very rough road, and that they will need to do as our founders did.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Welcome home, Britannia.

The Centre Cannot Hold; but All Shall be Well

Turning and turning in the widening gyre 
The falcon cannot hear the falconer; 
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; 
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, 
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere 
The ceremony of innocence is drowned; 
The best lack all conviction, while the worst 
Are full of passionate intensity. 

Surely some revelation is at hand; 
Surely the Second Coming is at hand. 
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out 
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi 
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert 
A shape with lion body and the head of a man, 
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, 
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it 
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. 
The darkness drops again; but now I know 
That twenty centuries of stony sleep 
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, 
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, 
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? 

That bit of Yeats pretty well sums up my feelings this morning, both as to where our 
countries are going and my personal life as well, which perhaps means I take current events 
too seriously. But I detect that same near despair in many of my friends. Many of them 
continue to fight and speak for the right, often getting at best, no response, and often a 
kick in the teeth for their trouble. Still, it’s what one does, if one has our temperament.

Is it possible to win this war against the allies of liberal progressive ( I struck that out 
because there is nothing liberal about them), the so-called media, and Islam (or Islamic 
terrorism, if you prefer)?

Sure it is possible, but it is about as likely as that the British Empire would hold on 
between Dunkirk and Pearl Harbor. In other words, yes, it's posssible, if we act with 
determination and steadfast will. Is it likely? 

I have no clue. But I notice that as I go on, my spirits begin to flag, as they do in 
others. Not all, of course, and for me, it is a lessening of intensity, a spiritual 
tiredness, and others keep me on track, as I hope I too do others. 

But it is going to be long war. But I do believe in the long run it is our war to win 
or lose. 
And perhaps Elliot is the truer poet. One prays so.

 If you came this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from,
If you came this way in may time, you would find the hedges
White again, in May, with voluptuary sweetness.
It would be the same at the end of the journey,
If you came at night like a broken king,
If you came by day not knowing what you came for,
It would be the same, when you leave the rough road
And turn behind the pig-sty to the dull facade
And the tombstone. And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment. There are other places
Which also are the world's end, some at the sea jaws,
Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city—
But this is the nearest, in place and time,
Now and in England.

 If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.

As Mother Julian reminds us -

“In my folly, before this time I often wondered why, by the great foreseeing wisdom of God, 
the onset of sin was not prevented: for then, I thought, all should have been well. 
This impulse [of thought] was much to be avoided, but nevertheless I mourned and sorrowed 
because of it, without reason and discretion.

“But Jesus, who in this vision informed me of all that is needed by me, answered with these 
words and said: ‘It was necessary that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all 
shall be well,and all manner of thing shall be well.'

Naught for England’s Comfort

Jess, the very first time she wrote here, wrote this:

“And this is the word of Mary,
The word of the world’s desire
`No more of comfort shall ye get,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.’ 

Now it proves the flint against which the iron of resolve is sharpened, and the Saxons rally and they win, even though all had seemed lost. Alfred was not the most charismatic or dramatic of leaders, but he won, and this is why:

And this was the might of Alfred,
At the ending of the way;
That of such smiters, wise or wild,
He was least distant from the child,
Piling the stones all day.

Alfred has faith and he had patience, and he had resilience; he lacked the capacity to despair. In short, he possessed all the Christian virtues. He listened to Our Lady and he understood her advice, and so, at the height of the battle:

The King looked up, and what he saw
Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.


Back to London for a bit, mostly because I want you to read this from the £ Daily Mail. Katie Hopkins wrote:

They stood in the centre of Brussels. Row on row.

Hands held high, making hearts to the heavens. Showing the slaughtered they were not forgotten. Reminding themselves they were here with love. Looking to show humanity wins. That love conquers all.

They lay in the centre of London, face down where they fell. Stabbed by a knife, rammed with a car, flung, broken, into the Thames, life bleeding out on the curb.

And the news came thick and fast.

A car rammed deliberately into pedestrians on the bridge. Ten innocents down.

A police officer stabbed at the House of Commons. Confirmed dead.

Another woman now, dead at the scene.

Shots fired. An Asian man rushed to hospital.

A woman, plucked from the water.

And I grew colder. And more tiny.

No anger for me this time. No rage like I’ve felt before. No desperate urge to get out there and scream at the idiots who refused to see this coming.

Not even a nod for the glib idiots who say this will not defeat us, that we will never be broken, that cowardice and terror will not get the better of Britain.

Because, as loyal as I am, as patriotic as I am, as much as my whole younger life was about joining the British military and fighting for my country — I fear we are broken.

Not because of this ghoulish spectacle outside our own Parliament. Not because of the lives rammed apart on the pavement, even as they thought about what was for tea. Or what train home they might make. (…)

As the last life-blood of a police officer ran out across the cobbles, the attacker was being stretchered away in an attempt to save his life.

London is a city so desperate to be seen as tolerant, no news of the injured was released. No clue about who was safe or not.

Liberals convince themselves multiculturalism works because we all die together, too.

An entire city of monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Blind. Deaf. And dumb. […]

The patriots of the rest of England versus the liberals in this city. The endless tolerance to those who harm us, (while the Home Office tries to shift the focus of public fear to white terror) — versus the millions like me who face the truth, with worried families and hopeless hearts, who feel the country sinking.

We are taken under the cold water by this heavy right foot in the south, a city of lead, so desperately wedded to the multicultural illusion that it can only fight those who love the country the most, blame those who are most proud to be British, and shout racist at the 52%.

via Katie Hopkins on the London terror attack | Daily Mail Online

She’s right, isn’t she? The government is so busy making sure that they offend no one that they offend only the English (and British) patriot. The rock solid basis of the country since before there was an England. I know they are there, I speak with them most every day, both English and Scottish. They are there, they are ready to do what needs to be done, but HMG won’t let them, and so they will eventually die with the rotters, and the moochers, that have taken over the so-called elite mostly in Londonistan.

The only thing frowned on in Great Britain these days is pride and patriotism in Britain. We, the cousins, we know what they have done for the world, for we took that heritage and we built “a Citty on a Hill” with it. That city has become the last chance for British Freedom in this world. We did this, with the tools vouchsafed us from England, and now England has lost the ability to use those same tools.

Earlier this week, we featured Dame Vera Lynn singing, “There will always be an England, and England shall be free”. But I increasingly have my doubts about that. I do believe the legend and legacy of English Freedom will live, as will the rights, but I much fear that they will move to the Great Republic as a refuge. William Pitt once commented that America was populated from England at the height of English freedom. It was, and we have, perhaps, kept the inheritance more sacred.

But, while it is late for Britain, and yes perhaps for the United States as well, in both places there are many good men (and women) and true, and we have been here before, many times. But we would do well to remember Sir Winston’s thoughts on the matter.

“If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

Neptunus Lex

Blogging is a very personal effort. NEO is not the same as any other blog, even though I may draw on many of them for inspiration, or even long quotes. It has been so as long as I’ve been around. One of the blogs I read, even before I started was Neptunus Lex, the blog of Carrol Le Fon, a naval aviator. He made me laugh, he made me cry and he made me think, what more can a man do for another. Lex died on 6  March 2012 doing what he loved best: making naval aviators even better. That’s a legacy that any man can aspire to.

Our blogs overlapped, but I don’t think I ever referred to him. I was amazed, reading the Victory Girls last night, that he still appeared on their blogroll. On a nostalgic whim, I followed the link. As I thought, the site disappeared shortly after his death, but what I didn’t know is that it was preserved. YAY!!! It is here, mostly. It’s not the same as having Lex amongst us, but I think it will serve. A sample of why so many of us loved him, and still do.

Well, and I very much appreciate all those who offered their thoughts. They pushed and pulled in many different directions, and apart from those who counselled immediate retirement – sorry, that’s not me – I have shared in all of them, all in a moment. Funny how things can swirl so quickly through your mind, between the moment when you hear unlooked for news, and the moment after, when you are asked what you think of it.

Is there a moment of wounded pride, wherein you ask: What? How can I be offered up? How can I be spared? As busy as I am, and as much as I contribute?

There is. But we are none of us irreplaceable, the wheel continues to turn. And it does not surprise me that I am offered up: I made a decision some time ago that this would be my last tour, which obviated the need for self-promotion. I do my work quietly, accept no thanks, offer it instead to others. It’s really quite astonishing what you can do, when you don’t care who gets the credit.

Is there a moment when the old joy of battle sings again in your heart? When you think of joining the fray rather than reading about it? When you think of qualifiying in weapons whose range is measured in meters rather than in miles? Of strapping on and suiting up once more? Of hurling yourself into the fight?

There is such a moment. A moment only. And then you reflect that no one places super-annuated FA-18 pilots on the deck in order to carry the fight to the foe. You reflect that of all the things you might learn in Sojer School, the most valuable would be to count your rounds as they went down range, in order to save the last one for the end. Because just like in the days when I strapped an airplane on to go to war, if it comes at last to a pilot with a pistol in his hand and dust on his boots, something has already gone horribly wrong, and the odds of it getting any better are vanishingly small.

From Now is the autumn of our discontent Who amongst us older people can’t relate to that? It’s happened to me and I’ll bet it’s happened to you as well. All we can do is try to pass on all those lessons we’ve learned, often to youngsters who think they know it all, but it’s our duty.

I note that Lex died a few days before the USS Enterprise set out on its last tour. Is it connected? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised, legends are like that.

Times and Seasons

BL Cotton MS Tiberius B I, the C-text of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

BL Cotton MS Tiberius B I, the C-text of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

Yesterday, I read some people complaining that Trump hasn’t stopped DACA yet. This is Wednesday, he was inaugurated last Friday, so give me a break. He’s accomplished more in the part of the last week than most presidents do in their first term. Take a deep breath and relax, he’s not going to do everything we want, anyway, but it looks like he’s going to do an incredible part of it.

My friend, The Clerk of Oxford says this in her latest post.

We don’t have to think about history only as a stream of events down which we helplessly drift, talking and fretting solely about the very latest thing to happen, without a moment for reflection or memory. (We’ll call this the ‘social media timeline’ model of history). There are other options, even if they’re not very fashionable ones: paying mindful attention to the details of the natural world, listening to the voices of poets of the past, thinking about patterns and constants and the changeless, instead of being solely fixated on the present.

Yeah, I know, it’s not always easy in our very noisy world, not for any of us. But there are ways. In that post, she’s talking about an old English poem called Menologium, which is bound with a copy of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, along with a copy of a wisdom poem called Maxims II.

All deal with time, but in different ways, The Chronicle starts with the Incarnation of Christ (Cristes geflæscnesse) and traces history by use of the feast days of the church. This version end with the Battle of Stamford Bridge on ‘the Vigil of St Matthew the Apostle’.

[T]he Menologium, though one might more poetically call it ‘The Beauties of the Year’, since that is really its subject. The poem moves through the calendar year, month by month, feast by feast, finding something to praise about every season in the traditional language of Old English poetry. It marks saints’ days, the 12 months, the two solstices and equinoxes, and the beginning of each of the four seasons, which are dated to the days halfway between each solstice and equinox. Every significant date or season receives its own brief lyrical description…

Maxims II  … begins by musing on kings, power, and the passage of the seasons:

Cyning sceal rice healdan. Ceastra beoð feorran gesyne,
orðanc enta geweorc, þa þe on þysse eorðan syndon,
wrætlic weallstana geweorc. Wind byð on lyfte swiftust,
þunar byð þragum hludast. Þrymmas syndan Cristes myccle,
wyrd byð swiðost. Winter byð cealdost,
lencten hrimigost – he byð lengest ceald –
sumor sunwlitegost – swegel byð hatost –
hærfest hreðeadegost, hæleðum bringeð
geres wæstmas, þa þe him god sendeð.
Soð bið switolost, sinc byð deorost,
gold gumena gehwam, and gomol snoterost,
fyrngearum frod, se þe ær feala gebideð.
Weax bið wundrum clibbor. Wolcnu scriðað.

A king should defend a kingdom. Cities are seen from afar,
the skilful work of giants, which are on this earth,
wondrous work of wall-stones. The wind in the sky is swiftest,
thunder is loudest in season. Great are the powers of Christ.
Fate is the most powerful thing, winter is coldest,
spring frostiest – it is the longest cold –
summer sun-brightest – the sun is hottest –
harvest most glory-blessed; it brings to men
the year’s fruits, which God sends them.
Truth is most treacherous, treasure is dearest,
gold to every man, and an old man is most wise,
made wise with years gone by, he who has experienced much.
Sorrow is wondrously clinging. Clouds glide on.

via A Clerk of Oxford: Times and Seasons, do read it all.

And that is important, I think. No matter the pressures of the day, life goes on, much as before. The seasons come, each in their turn, babies are born, people die or move on, but such things move at the older, slower pace, that our ancestors knew so well, living close to the land as they did. Marking off their life by the feast days of the church, which likely was often the only thing that penetrated their life from outside. It would make us crazy, to be without the constant noise, movement, and controversy, for a time. But I suspect, in the end, we would be more peaceful in our lives.

In Beowulf, the poet tells us

Metod eallum weold
gumena cynnes, swa he nu git deð;
forþan bið andgit æghwær selest
ferhðes foreþanc. Fela sceal gebidan
leofes ond laþes se þe longe her
on ðyssum windagum worolde bruceð. (1057-62)

The Measurer governed all for mankind, as he now does yet;
and so understanding is best everywhere,
forethought of mind. Much must he endure
of love and hate, who long here
in these days of strife enjoys the world.

Seems to me, that depending on how you live your life, those may be some of the most comforting, or the most disconcerting words you will ever read.

She ends her post, as I will mine with a quote from Maxims II.

gomol snoterost,
fyrngearum frod, se þe ær feala gebideð.
Weax bið wundrum clibbor. Wolcnu scriðað.

an old man is most wise,
made wise with years gone by, he who has experienced much.
Sorrow is wondrously clinging. Clouds glide on.

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