We shall defend our Island

Churchill studies reports of the action that day with Vice Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, 28 August 1940, © IWM (H 3508)

I almost never, as you know, talk about current movies. That’s mostly because they don’t interest me, very occasionally I’ll watch one, although, in truth, it’s more often that I’ll try to, and either fall asleep or get bored out of my mind and give up.

But there is one opening today that I do want very much to see. You see, I was raised by the guys that fought World War Two, the ones we sometimes call ‘The Greatest Generation’ and not unjustly. That’s true in America, and it’s arguably even more true in the UK. Remember, their war started on 1 September 1939, ours not until 7 December 1941. For two years the Empire held the line, worldwide, pretty much alone.

During all this time until Barbarossa went in on 22 June 1941, Germany and the Soviet Union had the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact guaranteeing peace between them.

In April of 1940 the Germans executed  Operation Weserübung, the conquest of Norway, and then in May came the Battle of France. The Allies despite having numerical superiority were surprised terribly by the German tactics, often referred to as Blitzkrieg, a style of campaign first executed by General Sherman in the US Civil War and popularised by JFC Fuller and Basil Liddel-Hart. As executed by Guderian and Rommel it was devastating. As the campaign developed the British Expeditionary Force and elements of the French army were trapped in and around Dunkirk. In an epic of improvisation and sheer bravery the Royal Navy, covered by the Royal Air Force and with the assistance of hundreds of small civilian craft managed to extricate over 300,000 members of that force.

That’s what the movie opening today is about. It is titled Dunkirk and promises to be an epic. Here is one of the trailers

The Prime Minister famously said that wars are not won by evacuations, and he is, of course, correct. But in this case, it was a very great moral victory, and besides, without it, there would have been almost no regular forces to defend Britain itself.

I imagine you have heard as I have that a singularly stupid twit, named Brian Truitt writing a review in USA Today, has said this:

The trio of timelines can be jarring as you figure out how they all fit, and the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way.

He also managed to conflate Dunkirk with D Day, I don’t know, maybe because they both have a ‘D’ in them.

About all I can say is that he apparently slept through history, if he took any, and for that matter doesn’t understand how to run Google. We may safely, going forward, completely ignore anything he says. He’s actually too stupid to live, but not smart enough to die, so he will, no doubt continue to waste oxygen and contribute his very own carbon footprint. Sad.

Here, from the International Churchill Society is Sir Winston’s speech, after Dunkirk.

The other film I very much want to see is connected viscerally to this, as well. Steven Hayward, writing in PowerLine tells us this:

Fortunately, another Churchill movie has finished production, Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman as Churchill, and focusing on the key period of the first weeks of Churchill’s premiership in 1940. Based on the trailer below, it looks not only that Oldman is a superior Churchill, but that it gets the key moment—the climactic events in the war cabinet of May 27-28 (which were unknown to the public until the 1980s)—exactly right. A couple of previous attempts, especially the HBO version of Finest Hour about ten years back, don’t get it right. (In addition to the brief evidence in the trailer, I’m pretty sure some sound friends of mine had significant input into the script.)

I haven’t heard from my friends that are Churchill experts about it, but maybe they will chime in as well. But judging by the trailer, this film, which opens in November, will be well worth our time. This trailer came out last week.

And so they did, in Churchill’s own words, ” until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

“Bless ’em all, the long and the short and the tall.”

The hubris of Theresa May

o-THERESA-MAY-facebook.jpg

Politics is a curious business, and foreign politics may be particularly so, but since this is an Anglo-American blog, I thought some reflections from the recent events in the UK might interest Neo’s readers.

The background is that 7 weeks ago the Prime Minister, Theresa May, having a 20 point lead in the opinion polls, decided to call a General Election. She had no need to, with a majority of 17 in the Commons, and another 3 years before law would require one. The media was agreed on only one thing, she would win a crushing victory, perhaps over 100 more seats, and the Labour Party, under the Bernie Sanders sound-alike, Jeremy Corbyn, would be crushed. She asked for a mandate and a majority, she got neither. In normal circumstances such a leader would go, and it seems as though her first instinct was to do just that, but as so often, she let her advisers overrule her. Since then her advisers have ‘resigned’ – it is said before members of the Cabinet insisted on their resignation. Having wanted a strong and stable government, she has given us a weak and wobbly one. In a few days negotiations over Britain’s leaving the EU will start, and we are no closer to knowing what sort of deal she wants. The only thing for certain is she is a weakened and diminished figure whose authority dwindles daily.

The only way she can now secure a majority for crucial legislation is via a deal with Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland. As Churchill put it in his memoirs of the Great War, writing about 1922:
“The whole map of Europe has been changed … but as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again.”

As the English electorate frantically googled ‘DUP”, the shape of modern toleration was apparent. At least one bigot on Twitter compared them to ISIS, and seemed surprised when I did not want to engage; minds that closed and toxic are not places any sensible person would wish to probe. Objections to their opposition to abortion and homosexual marriage are voiced loudly, as though no decent human being could think such things; the notion that no decent person could approve of the killing of babies in the womb does not occur to those quick to judge others.

So where now? Corbyn offered a lot of ‘free stuff’ to the young, and the old, who, naturally, bought it, so to say; after all, if bankers can be bailed out by billions of pounds, why can’t the young and the old? After nearly a decade of ‘austerity’, ordinary people are fed up. They do not feel they caused the crisis of 2008, but they know they have paid for it. The young, especially those who have been to university, are saddled with debts which they do not feel the jobs on offer to them will allow them to pay off; they are the first in this post 1945 generation not to be able to look forward to a better standard of loving than their parents – and they are not in the mood to vote for those who offer them no hope.

The Conservatives took the electorate for granted. Confident to the point of arrogance, they thought that could offer an uncosted manifesto with some unpopular policies, and make up for that by personal attacks on Corbyn. To his credit, he did not respond in kind, and whilst his own manifesto was full of dubious economics, it at least looked as though there was a message of hope there. The electorate have punished the hubris of Theresa May, and one thing is for certain, she will never be allowed to lead her party into another General Election. Can she carry on? Well, as long as there is no obvious successor, she can survive, but the Tory party has always been good at poleaxing failed leaders and finding new ones, so it will not be long, I suspect.

Do not take the electorate for granted or for fools.

The Mighty Endeavor

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the ...

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the 101st Airborne Division on the evening of 5 June 1944 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prologue:

Seventy-three years ago, night before last a Royal Air Force Group Captain delivered a weather briefing to an obscure American general. The general had an operation planned and the weather was very iffy. But, that general, who was a staff major in 1940 said, “OK, let’s go”

And so after planning and deception efforts reaching back to before Pearl Harbor, an operation was launched. It would invade France’s Normandy peninsula. It’s name was OVERLORD.

It was a huge risk, and there was no ‘Plan B’. If it failed, obviously that general’s career would end, his name was Eisenhower, by the way, so would his boss’s General Marshall, and probably his boss Franklin Roosevelt, for this was 1944, and it was an election year. The Prime Minister, and government, of the United Kingdom would fall.

But the real damage was none of these, these were individual men, and their fate, while important, was not critical. What was critical was that Central and Western Europe would become the prize of the war between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. This was the very last chance for freedom in and of the west.

And so, in one of history’s momentous decisions GEN Eisenhower said, “OK, let’s go”.

For planning purposes, everything had been planned to happen so many days before or after the day of execution, which up till that time had always been called “D-Day”. It never would be again. Because it was a singular operation, unlike anything seen before, and never seen again.

Prelude

Starting at about 0200 on Tuesday, the sixth of June, 1944, forever afterward known as D-Day, the United States 82d Airborne Division, and the 101st Airborne Division, the British 6th Airborne Division, the Canadian 1st Parachute Battalion, and other attached units parachuted into Normandy, more than 13,000 paratroopers. carried by 925 C-47 aircraft. The drops were badly scattered by winds and flak but eventually the units were able to consolidate and achieve their objectives. They also demonstrated how disruptive “little groups of paratroopers” can be to an enemy. They were joined later in the day by another 4000 glider-borne troops.

Shortly after 0630 the American 2d Ranger Battalion landed at Pointe de Hoc to begin their epic, and costly battle to take the bluffs, which held 6 German 155 mm guns.

The Main Event

U.S. Army troops wade ashore on Omaha Beach on the morning of 6 June 1944, although planned for the morning of 5 June, but delayed one day due to weather in France.

Gold, Sword, Juno, Omaha, and Utah, are now names which will live for ever in the iconography of freemen, but on 6 June 1944 the were merely code names, for the five beaches. At early dawn Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey, gave the order to launch the invasion, I like to think that he actually used the traditional naval command, “Land the Landing Party”. If so, what a landing party: From the United States: 1st Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Division, 29th Infantry Division. From the British Army: 3rd British Infantry Division,  50th British Infantry Division. From the Canadian Army the  3rd Canadian Infantry Division. They were supported by 12,000 aircraft under Air Marshall Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, coming from the 8th United States Army Air Force, the 9th United States Army Air Force and the Royal Air Force’s 2d Tactical Air Force. The invasion fleet consisted of over 6,300 vessel ranging from battleships like the USS Texas to LCVPs that could land a squad of infantry.

It was a very near run event, as the current was high, the water was choppy, and the Germans had been reinforced. 12 Medals of Honor were won this day, including one by Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., (awarded posthumously) as well as a Victoria Cross. But the lodgment was secured and 11 months later Nazi Germany surrendered.

They went into battle with a prayer from America led by the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them–help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.*

This is not meant to be a history of the operation, that would take several bookshelves and has been done, my purpose here is to commemorate these men and show how their achievement has altered history.

Aftermath

Most of you know the rough outlines of the story, the British stalled trying to take Caen. In fairness, the British could not afford to take casualties, remember they had lost almost an entire generation merely 26 years earlier. The Americans attacked into the bocage country of Normandy, which the American Army, as always designed for movement, found very difficult. The best explanation may well be that of “an irresistible force meeting an immovable object”.  Eventually, the force triumphed and 3d United States Army debouched onto the plains of France, stopping only when they ran out of gas in the approaches to Germany. As we have said, 11 months later, Nazi Germany surrendered.

Historical Consequences

But the invasion was a gamble, what would have happened if it failed? Undoubtedly, the Americans would have transferred whatever forces were left to the Mediterranean to be part of Operation Dragoon which landed in the south of France 2 weeks later. This could never have been a war winner though, the best it could have done is tied down some German forces from moving to the Eastern Front. So, the war in Europe would have ended with the Red Army conquering Germany, and who’s not to say they wouldn’t have come on through France as well. Simple prudence would seem to demand it, while the American emphasis would have been transferred to the war against Imperial Japan. The result is Europe from Portugal to the Urals, and from Lappland to Italy dominated by Moscow. But the Invasion succeeded due to the Valor of the English speaking peoples. There is a Churchill quote taken from his speech to the House of Commons on 18 May 1940 that comes to mind.

We shall never surrender and even if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, will carry on the struggle until in God’s good time the New World with all its power and might, sets forth to the liberation and rescue of the Old.

On Tuesday, 06 June 1944, the Americans and the Canadians, supported by the conquered people of Europe, in concert with the British Army, guarded primarily by the British Fleet, that promise was made good.

But it doesn’t end there either, for without this successful invasion, the Soviets would have controlled all of Europe, and probably still would. Would Britain have survived, for that matter would North America? It’s not for us to know, neither is it a sure thing.

But certainly, the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact would not have fallen as soon as 1990, thus making Europe from Portugal to the Urals and the North Pole to Sicily free.

As he often did, President Reagan said it better than anyone, when addressing those American Rangers we spoke of earlier, at the 40th anniversary of D-Day he said.

…The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers — at the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe de Hoc.

These are the men who took the cliffs.

These are the champions who helped free a continent.

These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender’s poem. You are men who in your “lives fought for life…and left the vivid air signed with your honor….

This was the spirit that animated the entire force that conquered fascism, In the words of another great general, “They came, They saw, and They Conquered”. And so the lighted torch of freedom was maintained for another generation. But the struggle continues.

* I note, in passing, without comment, that President Obama opposed, and opposes, this prayer being placed on the World War II Monument in Washington D.C.

Gulliver Awakes

Well, here’s a development made for clichés, isn’t it. “Sorry, Lauren, I guess we won’t have Paris after all.” But to me, it is most reminiscent of the story of Gulliver and the Lilliputians. One sees that the Europeans and the Asians realize that if Uncle Sam really gets back to productive work, it’s unlikely to be good for them, or even for the multi-national corporations they helped create, and so they attempted to create structures that a weak US administration would attempt to saddle the US economy with. Well, there is a problem with a plan that is anti-American enough to garner no support in Congress, and so you have to implement it with subterfuge. That’s what the Paris accord was, of course, the industrialized world kowtowing to China and maybe India, begging to be eaten last.

The problem is, the American people instinctively understood this, and stood up on their hind legs and told Congress “No” in very uncertain terms. Loud enough that their globalist paymasters had to give up, and Obama had to find a way to implement a treaty, without making it a legal treaty. Well, the people understood this ploy, even through the filter of the MSM, as well. And that’s one of the reasons we got Trump.

There are still many things I do not like about Donald Trump, which all here know, but there is one overriding thing about him, which won him my vote. He understands that his job is to protect and promote America and our people, come what may. I can disagree about many things, and some I do, the same was true with Jack Kennedy, Richard Nixon, any Bush at all, and yet I slept OK, with them on duty.

And so, we withdrew yesterday from the Paris Accords, as we never ratified Kyoto, and for the same reason, we have made so much environmental progress here, that these artificial guidelines and penalties are a (very) unfair attack on us. That they are also simply an international version of welfare, as always with much of the loot sticking to the fingers of the administrators) is a secondary, but important factor.

We’ve done cleaning the environment here (until about the last decade) here mostly in the right way, we have found it to increase efficiency, and so it has worked almost voluntarily.

Here’s the President.

Wonder why YouTube lists this as unlisted. Anyone know?

mm

Wonder why YouTube lists this as unlisted. Anyone know? 😉 It starts at about the 1 hour mark, I don’t understand that either. Suppose somebody doesn’t want you to join the half million people that have seen it since yesterday? 🙂

In any case, this is one of those things that may go a long way to “Make America Great Again”.

John Moody, writing on Foxnews.com had a bit of advice for Mutti Merkel as well.

Achtung!

Merkel’s uncalled-for remarks about the United States no longer being a trustworthy partner for its European allies set off a frenzy. Was she so displeased with President Trump during last week’s G-7 meeting? Was their discourse so strident that she thought a verbal warning shot was necessary?

Or is she just trying to keep her job?

Remember, Germany has federal elections scheduled for September, and Merkel, while slightly ahead in most polls, has no sure lock on keeping her party, the Christian Democrats, in the majority. A strong, though receding surge for Socialist Martin Schulz, and a newly energized far-right party, the Alternative for Germany, has squeezed the chancellor, who has been in power since 2005.

But Merkel’s horrible decision to open the gates of Europe to tens of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa turned her own people against her. Only Germany’s robust economy has saved her from humiliation in the last round of local elections – often an indicator of how federal elections will turn out.

Since she invited migrants into her country, and forced her neighbors to do the same, Europe has suffered nearly a dozen major terror attacks, none more horrific than the December 2016 Christmas market truck massacre in Berlin, which killed 12 and left Germany feeling very exposed to lone-wolf Islamic horror.

And who was among the first to decry Merkel’s come-one, come-all policy? Donald Trump. Who spoke up about the lopsided trade deficit the United States has with Germany? Donald Trump. Who lectured European members of NATO – specifically Germany – about not paying its fair share for the continent’s defense. Same answer.

And remember that Europe, excluding the UK, and a couple of small other countries, hasn’t carried their weight in their own defense since (at least) Nixon was President. It gets a bit tiresome, “doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much for so long with so little, that we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.” And, in fact, we are pretty tired of it.

When the United Kingdom opted out of the European Union last June, Merkel took it as a personal affront and has since schemed to make the U.K. pay a heavy price for its willfulness.

You might not like Mr. Trump, Frau Merkel. He is rude and outspoken and typically, in your view, American. But remember: Russia is to your east. Vladimir Putin is not impressed with the paltry defense force Europe could put together, if it did not have the United States behind it.

Verstehen?

Funny thing about those Anglo-Saxon countries, they’ll do a lot of things for you, but they do tend to expect at least a modicum of respect for doing that for you which is your own damned job.

“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.

“You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your Picardy spears;
But don’t try that game on the Saxon; you’ll have the whole brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise, you will yield.

“Appear with your wife and the children at their weddings and funerals and feasts.
Be polite but not friendly to Bishops; be good to all poor parish priests.
Say ‘we,’ ‘us’ and ‘ours’ when you’re talking, instead of ‘you fellows’ and ‘I.’
Don’t ride over seeds; keep your temper; and never you tell ’em a lie!”

Defending the Dream

Monument to the 1st Minnesota Infantry at Gett...

Monument to the 1st Minnesota Infantry at Gettysburg National Battlefield, Gettysburg, PA, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is 30 May, the traditional date for Decoration Day, by order of General Logan, commanding the Grand Army of the Republic, as noted here yesterday. When Congress decided we needed a three day weekend more than we needed to remember our traditions, I think they made a mistake, not that we don’t need that three day weekend!

You know, as do I, that America has never been a pile of rocks and dirt between the oceans. Whether your ancestors came over the Bering land bridge time out of memory ago, came on the Mayflower, came to escape starvation in Ireland to see the sign “No Irish need Apply”, came from old Mexico to work at a meat-packing plant, or got off a 777 last night; You are here because of a dream. Bevin Alexander said it as well as anybody.

Imagine, if you will, the sense of awe that seized the first settlers at Jamestown in Virginia, in 1607, at Plymouth in Massachusetts, and at the other landings along the coast of North America in the early decades of the seventeenth century. Here were little English communities hacking out perch sites on the very edge of an unknown land. … But when they finally reached the great chain of mountains called the Appalachians and gazed out from its heights, they were utterly confounded-before them an even more boundless, more astonishing land stretched out to seeming infinity toward the setting sun.

This was the moment when the American character was formed. Whatever limits of class and status the settlers had brought with them from Britain would fall away to insignificance in this prodigious land. When astute individuals looked toward the limitless frontier that they now knew would beckon continuously on the western horizon, they realized that no king, no aristocracy, could crush them. At any time they could cross this frontier and put all of Europe’s restraints behind them. This had immense and overwhelming effects throughout the colonies. Americans, whether they crossed the frontier or not, were destined to be forever free.

But to make dreams come true is hard work. And there are people around whose dreams would preclude yours. So dreams have to be defended. So it is with the American Dream. From that day to this, the dream has demanded that men, ordinary men, defend it. But the defending of dreams creates extraordinary men, and so it has been here.

On 19 April 1775, a shot was fired in Lexington, MA, no one knows by whom. That shot has echoed down the corridors of time for 242 years, and its reverberations continue. For that shot was a warning that God meant men to be free, and with God’s help, men, and women would be free. A few weeks before, a member of the House of Burgesses, Patrick Henry, in Virginia said this:

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

And so was the lamp lit in that fabled city on the hill that John Winthrop had spoken of all the way back in 1630.

…for wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world, wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of god and all professours for Gods sake; wee shall shame the faces of many of gods worthy servants, and cause theire prayers to be turned into Cursses upon us till wee be consumed out of the good land whether wee are going:…

And so it came to pass that America would be free. It would not be perfect, ever, for America is a dream of man, not a work of God. But it would continually try to be, and it would improve. And it would come to pass that the lamp lighted in that city upon a hill would become a beacon to the world so that today the world itself is far more free than on that blustery March day when Mr. Henry spoke.

But in the middle of the 19th century, the dream nearly foundered on the rocks of two different interpretations of that freedom.

That conflict has often been said to have been about slavery but, deep down it wasn’t. Very few Southerners defended slavery on moral grounds, they did on economic grounds but, in truth, they had little choice. A very high percentage of their capital was tied up in slaves, and that is why, even then, the South was lagging behind the North in industrialization. For it would be true that southern planters owned slaves, it is equally true that the slaves own their masters. As Frederick Douglass said, “No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.

On the other side, there were some abolitionists, it is true but, they were fewer than one would think. In truth, Abraham Lincoln himself said that while he would not countenance the extension of slavery he saw no method of abolishing it either. So what was left was Union or secession. That is what motivated the Armies, the proper road for the dream.

Those armies of America, The Army of Northern Virginia, The Army of the Potomac, The Army of the Tennessee, have become part of the soul of America, the dusty columns still march in our hearts. And the battles they fought: 1st & 2d Manassas, the Seven Days, Champions Hill, The artillery hell of Antietam, the burning wounded in the Wilderness, the misery of the Mule Shoe, and Cold Harbor. The taking of Missionary Ridge without orders because the enlisted men decided to do it, and finally that heart-wrenching scene at Wilmer McLean’s house (where he had moved to get away from the armies at Bull Run) where General Grant met General Lee and Lee surrendered that most romantic of American Armies, the Army of Northern Virginia, under terms inspired by Lincoln’s advice to Grant to “Let ’em up easy”. And so the Army not so much surrendered as passed directly into legend for all Americans. An Army that fought until it was living on acorns, knowing it couldn’t win, but fighting for its beliefs.

Who amongst us can forget the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, on the second day of Gettysburg (from the inscription on the monument.

On the afternoon of July 2, 1863 Sickles’ Third Corps, having advanced from this line to the Emmitsburg Road, eight companies of the First Minnesota Regiment, numbering 262 men were sent to this place to support a battery upon Sickles repulse.

As his men were passing here in confused retreat, two Confederate brigades in pursuit were crossing the swale. To gain time to bring up the reserves & save this position, Gen Hancock in person ordered the eight companies to charge the rapidly advancing enemy.

The order was instantly repeated by Col Wm Colvill. And the charge as instantly made down the slope at full speed through the concentrated fire of the two brigades breaking with the bayonet the enemy’s front line as it was crossing the small brook in the low ground there the remnant of the eight companies, nearly surrounded by the enemy held its entire force at bay for a considerable time & till it retired on the approach of the reserve the charge successfully accomplished its object. It saved this position & probably the battlefield. The loss of the eight companies in the charge was 215 killed & wounded. More than 83% percent. 47 men were still in line & no man missing. In self sacrificing desperate valor this charge has no parallel in any war. Among the severely wounded were Col Wm Colvill, Lt Col Chas P Adams & Maj Mark W. Downie. Among the killed Capt Joseph Periam, Capt Louis Muller & Lt Waldo Farrar. The next day the regiment participated in repelling Pickett’s charge losing 17 more men killed & wounded.

The very next day, for the very last time, was displayed the grim majesty and pomp of war in the old style, as the center of the Army of Northern Virginia attacked in close order under General Pickett, and was repulsed, the high tide bringing General Armistead to die with his hand on a Union gun.

There are many other actions that we could tell of equal bravery on either side. This was merely 150 years ago, and yet, many have not heard of the glory of these men who were willing to suffer more than 83% casualties in battle and were in line the next day to receive the most famous of American charges.

These were the men that Decoration Day was instituted to honor. Do we still honor them?

Also note that during the Seven Days battles in Virginia it was not possible to fire the volleys requisite to military funerals, a tradition going back to the Roman Legions shouting “Vale” three times in burying their comrades. A substitute had to be found, it was, Colonel Dan Butterfield wrote a new call for his buglers to sound. It has been sounded millions of times since to mark the end of the day and the burial of the soldier. This is it of course.

And so today, as you travel around the world, wherever you find Americans buried, at Cambridge in England, at Omaha Beach and Chateau Thierry in France, in Luxembourg, in Italy, in Australia, in the Philippines, at Arlington, at Lexington, at Gettysburg, at Fort MacPherson, Nebraska, and Fort Snelling, Minnesota, and so many others, and in nearly every graveyard in America, you will see graves strewn with flowers, and with a small American flag placed in front of the headstone. For these men, and women as well, one day raised their right hand and took an oath to defend “We, the People”, from all enemies, foreign and domestic. And these the “Gardens of Stone” are the only land that America still holds in the world.

We can note with pride the success of the mission has been such that when the BBC asked an elderly Dutch woman long after World War Two about how she knew the liberators of her town were Americans, she could reply, “I knew they were Americans because they walked like free men.”

Workin’ in the Mill

Apparently, Craig Bouchard has decided to build a new aluminum mill – in Ashland Kentucky. That’s something that ‘t doesn’t happen very often. In America, at least. Allysia Finley, over at The First Street Journal took a look at it following a story in the Wall Street Journal.

In April the CEO of Braidy Industries, Craig Bouchard, announced his company would build a $1.3 billion aluminum mill in Ashland, Ky., creating 550 jobs. Within the past few weeks, he has received 2,600 applications—many with heart-wrenching personal anecdotes.

Ashland, a small Appalachian town on the Ohio River, was once an industrial powerhouse. Fifty years ago, nearby coal mines churned out cheap energy and raw materials for steel production. But in recent decades the region has suffered a series of blows. In 1998 Ashland Oil relocated to the Cincinnati suburbs. Two years ago, AK Steellaid off 600 workers. Last year CSX Railroad cut 100 jobs due to reduced traffic from the coal mines. Unemployment in Greenup County stands at 8.9%.

Last month President Trump —who won the county with 71% of the vote—ordered an investigation into whether aluminum imports were jeopardizing national security. It’s a step toward the tariffs that protectionists hope will revive America’s Rust Belt. But the best hope for towns like Ashland is innovation and investment by men like Mr. Bouchard.

He’s the kind of businessman who might appear on a union hit list. The CEO cut his chops in derivatives trading before buying the scraps of a bankrupt Chicago steel company in 2003 with his brother James. Within five years, the Bouchard brothers had built their company, Esmark, into the nation’s fourth-largest steel conglomerate.

They sold it for $1.2 billion to the Russian steelmaker Severstal in 2008, shortly before the stock market and steel industry crashed. Thousands of workers subsequently lost their jobs. Mr. Bouchard blames the United Steelworkers. He had first tried to sell a partnership stake in Esmark to the Indian company Essar Steel. But the United Steelworkers sought to force a sale to Severstal, which the union perceived as more labor-friendly. Had the Essar deal been consummated, Mr. Bouchard says, “every one of those people would have their jobs today” because all of the company’s debt would have been paid off.

The episode soured him on organized labor, and it’s one reason he was determined to build his new aluminum plant in a right-to-work state, where workers can’t be compelled to join a union. Before choosing Ashland, he drew up a list of 24 potential sites. The logistics favored Ashland, and Kentucky offered $10 million in tax incentives as well as low-cost electricity. But Mr. Bouchard says he was prepared to build elsewhere had Kentucky’s Republican governor, Matt Bevin, not signed right-to-work legislation in January.

Pay at the plant, which is expected to be up and running in 2020, will start at $50,000 a year and average $70,000—about twice the median household income in Ashland. Workers will also have access to health insurance, fitness facilities and a day-care center.

There’s more at the WSJ link, although it is subscriber only. But there is enough here to draw some conclusions.

First, Ashland is a superb location, especially for heavy industry, on the Ohio River, only a few miles from an Interstate Highway, lots of railroad infrastructure, and lots of unemployed people, both a legacy from coal mining. Nor does it hurt, that the Kentucky government offered $10 million in tax incentives and cheap electricity (aluminum production takes a lot of electricity, I seem to remember).

And finally, Kentucky is a right-to-work state, and Bouchard, like so many of us, has been turned anti-union, by the unions, themselves. Many of us watched as the were the main actors in destroying many of the industries that dominated my childhood, primary steel, the big 3 automakers, and many others. Apparently including Bouchard’s Esmark Steel. Nor does he appear to be exactly planning on exploiting his workers, starting them at $50K, and averaging $70K, that’s a pretty decent living, and working conditions are no longer really a contract condition, they’re a government regulation. Yes, often a silly group of them.

One of the things that the unions used to kill enterprises, and why it is a very silly move anymore to buy a legacy business, are the defined benefit pension plan, Allysia says this.

The pension decisions of decades in the past are still weighing down American manufacturers today. Those decisions cannot all be blamed on unions; management too frequently took decisions concerning pension plans and funding which worked fine for the individual managers in the fifties and sixties, but are unsustainable today. Defined benefit plans are being replaced by 401(k) plans, and the like, plans which do not depend upon the company’s future contributions to those plans. The defined benefit plan, if not properly funded as the company moves along, is, in effect, paying retired personnel a wage for no longer working.

That’s correct, and a good deal of that was taking the easy way out, rather than fighting the union. And by the way, it is not only business, it’s the basic problem (besides corruption, of course) with government, in Chicago, in Detroit, in Illinois, in California, and pretty much anywhere that government employees have unionized, because politicians, being the weak-willed creatures they are, have almost always not funded the retirement systems as required (often the unions haven’t, either).

And that’s why smart people go for a 401k these days, which was originally designed for the self-employed. If you fund it yourself, it tends to get funded, if you depend on other people’s money, well people are subject to the temptation of shinier objects than taking care of those who used to work with them.

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