Calling BS

I told myself that CPAC was over, it was all the GOPe, the never-Trumpers and all that. Probably you did as well, and as always there were some controversies. But there is also some really good stuff there. Yeah, like Dana Loesch, fresh from the fake news town hall, telling the legacy media how it’s going to be. Watch it, you’ll like it, and you’ll like what she says. I think you’ll be heartened by it, I was.


Incidentally, she talks a bit in there about how Social Media networks are having to change their algorithms because we have figured it out, and we are taking over. Well, we’ve had quite a few videos this week (for here, anyway) and not a single one of them could be found by WordPress’s youtube plugin. Might be a coincidence, of course, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.

Along that line, Stacy McCain tells us that his account at has been suspended. Why? Well, you get three guesses but the first two don’t count. Let him tell it:

On Feb. 14, I received this email from

We are writing to notify you that your account is in violation of our rules, and your profile and posts will no longer be publicly available on Medium.

Medium exists to share and discuss ideas. We don’t tolerate harassment, which includes:

— Bullying, threatening, or shaming someone, or posting things likely to encourage others to do so
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There was nothing in this email to describe how anything I had done had specifically violated these rules. So I sent them an email inquiring what content had caused this suspension, and what I might do to get my account reinstated. No answer. So I emailed again, and again. Nothing.

Anybody surprised? I didn’t think so.

But you know, it’s not too bad here yet, and the battle is truly joined, and as always, the Brits are slowly mobilizing as well, except of course, in Londonistan, which has been lost. But you know, not all that many years ago a great man said, in perfectly serviceable Anglo-Saxon words, “We shall fight on beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender …” And if Europe will survive or even the UK and the US, it will be up to us, the Anglo-Saxons to make it so. What was, is, and will be – we are the guarantors of liberty. Here’s another one of us.

And finally, a heroic Brit you probably won’t hear about on the BBC, but you will from American Conservatives. From Fox News.

An 88-year-old British military veteran tapped into his decades-old training to reportedly save a young woman from five knife-wielding thugs.

John Nixon, who fought in the Korean War, said he stepped in when he noticed five youths grab a woman’s handbag and clothes while walking down Raglan Street, in Kenthish Town, last month.

“My initial thoughts were to divert their attention away from the girl who was screaming. I shouted ‘leave her alone,’” he told the Evening Standard. “But they turned on me, saying ‘We’ll take your money instead,’ and I said, ‘No you don’t.’ Kids this age are full of bravado, you see, they weren’t expecting a surprise.”

Nixon said his military training kicked in and he fought back at one of the suspected thieves, slugging one in the neck.

“I disabled one but another pulled out a knife so I had to try and deal with him too,” he continued. “I tried to disarm him and in the process I got stab wounds here, there and everywhere. There was a lot of blood. He wasn’t trained and it was more of a pocket knife. Luckily my wounds were shallow.”

The robbers fled and Nixon was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Police officers applauded Nixon for the Jan. 27 attack, commending him for his “extraordinary bravery.”

Bravo Zulu, Sir!

The story notes that no arrests have been made, and no description of the perpetrators evident, at least in the story I saw, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as I have drawn mine.


Dog Whistling for the Stupid

William Stone, Sheriff of Accomac Shire, Virginia, 1634

You must be very careful out there, these days, the stupid it lurks everywhere. Paul Mirengoff tells us that Jeff Sessions when he spoke to the National Sheriff’s Association lately had the effrontery to refer to our Anglo-American legal heritage. He said.

I want to thank every sheriff in America. Since our founding, the independently elected sheriff has been the people’s protector, who keeps law enforcement close to and accountable to people through the elected process. The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement.

Cue the stupid outrage:

Sen. Brian Schatz (D. Haw.) led the charge. He tweeted:

Do you know anyone who says “Anglo-American heritage” in a sentence? What could possibly be the purpose of saying that other than to pit Americans against each other? For the chief law enforcement officer to use a dog whistle like that is appalling. Best NO vote I ever cast.

My word, does he think our law was delivered on stone tablets on Mt. Washington, by the Spaghetti Monster, or perhaps that we borrowed that paragon of fairness, the Zambesian legal code.  Life is hard, and it harder when you are still stupid, and even worse when you haven’t the sense to shut up.

Even some leftists know better

From Barack Obama in 2006:

The world is watching what we do today in America. They will know what we do here today, and they will treat all of us accordingly in the future—our soldiers, our diplomats, our journalists, anybody who travels beyond these borders. I hope we remember this as we go forward. I sincerely hope we can protect what has been called the “great writ”—a writ that has been in place in the Anglo-American legal system for over 700 years.

Obama invoked the same tradition in 2008, while campaigning for the presidency. The Washington Post reported:

Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for more than a decade, said captured suspects deserve to file writs of habeus corpus. Calling it “the foundation of Anglo-American law,” he said the principle “says very simply: If the government grabs you, then you have the right to at least ask, ‘Why was I grabbed?’ And say, ‘Maybe you’ve got the wrong person.’”

As President, Obama continued to speak of the Anglo-American legal tradition. From CBS News:

Obama would not say whether [closing Gitmo] could be achieved within the first 100 days of his term, citing the challenge of creating a balanced process “that adheres to rule of law, habeas corpus, basic principles of Anglo-American legal system, but doing it in a way that doesn’t result in releasing people who are intent on blowing us up.

The Sheriff goes far back into our history. Yes, we all know the semi-legendary role he played in the American West. But he was an old hand by then.

The Sheriff was the chief law enforcement officer in colonial America, the first sworn sheriff was William Stone, pictured above, who was sworn in as the Sheriff of Accomac Shire in Virginia in 1634.

Thomas Jefferson said that the Sheriff was, “the most important executive officer of the country”.

But this is recent history, The Sheriff is mentioned nine times in Magna Charta. Nor was it a new office then, even if this is contemporary with the Sheriff of Nottingham chasing Robin Hood.

In fact, the Shire system was designed by King Alfred the Great around 871AD and Shire was administered by none other than the Shire Reeve, which term, English being English became the Sheriff.

Think about that for a bit, that guy that in our more rural areas many us know, might even be friends with, his office was established by King Alfred the Great, taken over as is by King William the Conqueror, mentioned in Magna Charta, the first executive agent in the American colonies, helped bring law and order to the Wild West, and continues on much the same today, 1147 years later.

Hat tip to: The Henry County Sheriff’s Office.

Dan Hannan tells a story about a few years ago, when the UK was seeking to decentralize and democratize law enforcement (don’t worry, leftists, they mostly got over it) he told all and sundry that the proper term for the executive was the “Sheriff”. He says he was rebuffed with the comment that the term was ‘too American’. Must have studied history with Sen. Brian Schatz (D, Stupid).

That looks a good bit like an Anglo-American heritage there to me, Pilgrim.

[On another note, see you at Ash Wednesday service, and Happy Valentine’s Day. The first time since 1945, that the two signal markers of love have happened on the same day. Seems fitting somehow. God’s perfect love reflected in our (very) imperfect love of his creatures.]

A New Constellation

Usually on 31 December we look back over the last year, and plenty of bloggers have been doing that, and I might yet, but I want to look back a little further, to what all the noise is about, about Trump’s very good year, yes, but also the uproar in Britain about Brexit, and why it is all so basic. Yes, it is also why this blog is here, if I didn’t care about freedom, under God – well what would be the point, exactly? It’s what we and the rest of the Anglophone countries stand, and have always stood, for.

As we watch the demonstrations just getting going again in Iran, we wonder, do they have the dream of our ancestors? Well, we can’t know for sure, but our people have always been ready to welcome others “yearning to breathe free”, I rather doubt we have changed, although we are undoubtedly more chary of putting our young people at risk after the events of the last score years. For as John Quincy Adams said so long ago.

America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She well knows that by enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standards of freedom.

241 years ago last July, there was a new constellation to be seen, it looked a good bit like this


Although it had somewhat fewer stars to begin with. Here’s the musical version of its creation

But you know, it was a most unusual revolution, I call it a conservative counter-revolution because it sought to restore, not try anything new. True, it spun out in a direction that was not really planned, and it has worked out fairly well, but it wasn’t really what those men went to Philadelphia to do.

The American Revolution/War of Independence was fought by British Americans against a German King and a reactionary Prime Minister for British Ideals.

Lady Astor

Being a literate society, the American Revolution was pretty much written down, and considering the circumstances, the founders did well to make sure that the documents survived. In fact, they are all at the National Archives, in a case that is designed to survive an all but direct hit with a thermonuclear weapon, as in meet for documents that have built the modern world. What are these four irreplaceable documents?

  1. The Declaration of Independence, that we celebrate every Fourth of July.
  2. The Constitution that forms the backbone of a just society
  3. The Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments that guarantee the basic rights of every American

Important documents, aren’t they? They are officially called the “Charters of Freedom”. The very foundation of the United States of America, right there ink on parchment, written down for the ages. This is what John Kennedy was talking about when he said:

For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.    1
  The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God. 2
  We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world. 3
  Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. 4
  This much we pledge—and more. 5
  To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do—for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder. 6
  To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom—and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

That is what America has always been, it’s the dream. The dream of a society where you will be treated justly, not the place with the best free stuff. The place where you can earn anything you want, whether it’s a Big Mac, to own your own business, or be the President, you can earn it. In its basics, that is what America is all about.

But the concept didn’t spring full-blown from Jefferson’s forehead like some modern Pallas Athena either, the roots of freedom are uniquely rooted in the Anglo-Saxon heritage, which is why we share so much with our British, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealander cousins, we are unique in the world, our heritage is freedom, not oppression.

For instance:

Excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

To an American, it sounds just like the 8th Amendment to the Constitution, except that the word ought is substituted for shall. So what is it? It’s from England’s 1689 Bill of Rights, and yes, gentle reader, like almost all protections afforded to British subjects, it has been revoked.

And that is the point. We Americans have always taken pride in our revolutionary past, and we still do. But we built on the shoulders of giants. Those Charters of Freedom we spoke of earlier, remember I said there were four, I only mentioned three, didn’t I? What could possibly be the fourth, to compare with our Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights? There’s only one candidate,

Magna Charta

images (1)That’s right, the fourth charter of freedom of Americans is the Great Charter that set out to limit the power of King John, way back in Angevin times. Nearly every right we prize today was set out as a right of the freemen of England in that charter. And that is what differentiates the Anglosphere from everybody else, that spirit of individual liberty. Americans perhaps say it louder and prouder than some of the cousins but we, and they know it is our common heritage, that we have fought millennia for. Back there in Philadelphia, they didn’t raise Betsy Ross’s flag (if she even made it!) They raised this standard, because we were very loud and proud Brits, until we had to go get some help from the French, who, as always, were willing to screw around in our affairs.

The colonists emigrated from you when this part of your character [love of freedom] was most predominant; and they took this bias and direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are therefore not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas, and on English principles.

Edmund Burke, 1775

Happy New Year, see ya next year!

Keep the Radio On

The other day in comments, Unit and I got to talking a bit about listening to the radio. I commented then that often I have the BBC local station in Norfolk on. I use an internet radio almost exclusively anymore, not least because I’m not all that fond of contemporary country music, which is about all that I can get here.

If I spent more time in the truck, I would likely bite the bullet and get me a Sirius radio, it’s an impressive service, but my internet one is just fine for here, and yes, I’ve been known to record a few hours of something to playback when I’m travelling. What can I say, I’m a cheap old curmudgeon.

It’s hard to describe the appeal of the BBC’s local stations because unless you are like me, you don’t really remember what local radio was like in the US. For quite a while now, it has mostly been the same wherever you go, delivered by satellite to the stations. That’s even true for AM talk radio. In a way, it’s good, I can listen to Rush at the same time that you do, wherever you are, but there’s little that’s personal about it.

Interestingly, the BBC local stations started coming on air 50 years ago, to counteract the pirate stations that were operating offshore. Some of these also ran shortwave service, and I can remember listening to Radio Caroline myself when I was a kid after it got dark and the propagation picked up. Them and the World Service, Radio Moscow, Radio Vatican, and for some reason Radio Quito. That’s how my interest in long-distance radio got started.

The other day The Spectator ran an article on the local stations that I found quite interesting. Here’s a bit.

It’s 50 years since the first local radio stations were launched by the BBC in yet another instance of the corporation working hard to stay ahead of the game, on this occasion responding to the challenge of the pirate stations, whose audiences were local and known to be very loyal. Radio Leicester was the first to go on air on 8 November 1967, launched by a very plummy-voiced postmaster-general as ‘the first hometown radio station in Britain’. (The BBC executive behind the idea, Frank Gillard, had spent time in America and been impressed by local radio there, wishing to replicate its homespun feel.) Others followed quickly, dependent on whether the local council was happy to provide part-funding (they are now solely funded by the BBC). Known for their cheesy jingles (Radio Merseyside boasted that their call-sign was composed by Gerry Marsden, of the Pacemakers), the BBC’s local stations were often treated like a poor relation of grand old 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Underfunded, understaffed, relegated to the back pages of Radio Times,they were designed for listeners like ‘Dave and Sue’ (the fictional target audience created by the Beeb’s marketing department), who were in their fifties, not interested in politics or piano concertos, shopped at Asda, wore ‘casual clothes’, and wanted to be cheered up and made to laugh by what they listened to. […]

That is a formula that still works, at least for me, and why listening to the radio has become in America, mostly something one does in the car, I think.

There is something very different about the conversation local stations have with their audiences. As Vanessa Feltz of Radio London explained on the World At One last Wednesday, it is ‘very, very intimate. You can be talking about specific houses, specific window boxes’; it’s broadcasting in the raw. Jack Thompson, one of the first presenters on Radio Sheffield, recalled how instead of phoning in, callers would turn up at the station and be put behind the mike, talking directly to other listeners. Local stations can react more quickly, the Radio Manchester presenter Allan Beswick staying on air until six in the morning after the Manchester Arena attack earlier this year.

That continuity and flexibility creates a bond with the listener that could be said to be ‘the culture of encounter’ interrogated by Douglas Alexander, the former Labour MP and cabinet minister, in his programme for Radio 4 on Tuesday morning. He wonders why so many of us now have the sense that we’re living among strangers, incredulous that anyone can have voted to leave the EU, or on the other hand to remain. […]

Yep, he’s right, I think. Several of the announcers have become welcome voices in my ears, one, whose name I shamefully have forgotten, got his start on Radio Caroline, and is as good as he was there, Some are just fun to listen to, where else will you find someone addressed as Thunderfairy, and some just ooze personality, like Georgey Spanswick, whose laugh is so infectious that I think she is now on all the local stations in England and the Channel Islands. Combine that with old music, both top 40 and country, and even the weekly gardening show, and it’s a calm and winning combination. Even Postman Pat shows up, and if that registers with you, you spend, like me, entirely too much time with Brits.

Shared activities bridge the difference, like the project in Peckham that brings young professionals together with older people, the young teaching techie skills, the older people telling stories, giving advice, Just like local radio.

And just like radio used to be here,

So often we cousins steal the absolute worst in each other’s culture, but here the Brits managed to steal something that was really good in America, and to get it right not long before we threw it away. Good on you, BBC. You do lots of stuff on on your big national stations radio, and TV, that is deplorable, but your local stuff is quite wonderful.

It’s a formula that worked so well that for a time in the mid 60s the best music came either from London – or Chicago. It still works for me, even if I have to listen to a station in Norwich, England. And every once in a while, someone gets on the station, that actually speaks with the Norfolk accent, if you hear it, you won’t forget it, although you may not understand a word they say.

But you know, I was never the complete rocker, for years my clock radio lulled me to sleep, set on WGN, listening to Jack Eigen talking to whatever show biz folks happened to be in Chicago that day. Nothing important, just chatting with them, maybe spinning a record of two, or maybe not. Things were simpler then, maybe because we simply didn’t hear all the noise we do these days.

And this week, one of my favorite Gingers celebrated her 85th birthday, so we’d best remember her, as well.

Remembrance Sunday

English: John McCrae Français : John McCrae

English: John McCrae Français : John McCrae (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Friday we celebrated Veterans’ Day which I wrote about yesterday. In the rest of the English-speaking world, it is called Remembrance Day. And is commonly marked on Sunday, hence Remembrance Sunday. In truth, it is more akin to the American Memorial Day for it marks the losses of Britain and the Commonwealth.

At eleven o’clock yesterday, 99 years ago,  the Great War ended. Truly at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. It was (and is) also the feast day of St Michael, the patron saint of the Infantry, which surely seems appropriate. It had been a horrendous experience for everyone. In truth, Europe lost an entire generation in the war, it ended the optimism of the Victorian age and ushered in the defeatist Europe (and even America) we see now. We will talk more about this in the coming days but, today is a day to remember.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

That poem was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian Army at the battlefront at Ypres in 1915, and it has come to symbolize the day. You see while some credit the United States with winning the war, which may be true, we got there very late, not going into battle until 1918. Remember the war started in 1914. Others suffered much worse than we did. Since we joined the winning side, with which we had historic ties we joined in their commemoration.

If you happen to see the commemorations today across the Anglosphere you will notice nearly everyone wearing red paper poppies, that comes from the poem. I can still remember when I was in elementary school, members of the American Legion Auxiliary distributing poppies to us and explaining what they meant. Do they still do that? I hope so but, I doubt it, America has changed.

In any case, I think we would be wise to join our cousins as they remember the dead from the wars of Freedom today. We would be in good company…


Yesterday morning General Pershing laid the Congressional Medal of Honour on the grave of the Unknown British Warrior in Westminster Abbey. The simple and beautiful ceremony seemed full of the promise of new and happier times. And what we call Nature appeared to have laid her approval on the hopes that it aroused.

That the United States should confer on an unknown British Warrior the highest military honour that can be bestowed by its Government, that jealously guarded and rarely granted Medal of Honour, which can only be won “at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty”; that Congress should pass a special Act enabling this honour to be paid to one who was not a citizen of the United States; that by the request and in the presence of the American Ambassador the medal should be laid upon the tomb by the hand of the great soldier who is now the successor of Washington, Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan as General of the Armies of the United States, and that the ceremony should take place while the eyes of all the world are turned to the coming Congress at Washington.

Here is great matter for pride and hope; and it seemed to be by something more than mere accident or the working of unalterable law that, just at the beginning of the ceremony, the sun should stream down, in its natural gold, through a window not yet painted, upon the Union Jack that was spread at the foot of the Unknown Warrior‘s grave. The ancient mystery of the great Abbey is never wholly dispelled by the light of day. Yesterday, as ever, she preserved her immemorial secrets and her ever brooding silence; yet brightness, colour, confidence were the notes of the ceremony; and, contrasting the sunshine of yesterday with the tragic gloom remembered on other occasions since August, 1914, one could not but believe that the externals matched the inner truth of the act, and that the modern history which, as the Dean of Westminster reminded us, began with the war in which the Unknown Warrior gave his life was about, through him and his like, to bring joy and peace to the world.

With the Union Jack at its foot and the wreaths bestowed about its edge, the stone that temporarily covers the Unknown Warrior’s grave near the west end of the Abbey was bare, save for a little case full of rosaries and sacred emblems that lies at its head. The space about it was shut off from the rest of the Nave by a barrier, through which passed only those who had been specially invited to seats of honour round the grave. The Nave was packed with people facing north and south, and lined with soldiers and sailors of the United States Army and Navy, among them some of General Pershing’s picked battalion, strapping fellows in khaki or blue, who seemed to have all the smartness and the immobility to which we are accustomed in British troops on such occasions.


Backed by a row of Abbey dignitaries were the Dean of Westminster, the American Ambassador, and General Pershing, standing at the gravehead, and facing up the great church.

At the invitation of the Dean, the American Ambassador then spoke as follows:

“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.

There were two soldiers. One was British. The other was American. They fought under different flags, but upon the same vast battlefield. Their incentives and ideals were identical. They were patriot warriors sworn to the defence and preservation of the countries which they loved beyond their own lives. Each realized that the downfall of his own free land would presage the destruction of all liberty. Both were conscious of the blessings that had flowed from the English Magna Charta and the American Constitution. Well they knew that the obliteration of either would involve the extinguishment of the other. So with consciences as clear as their eyes and with hearts as clean as their hands they could stand and did stand shoulder to shoulder in common battle for their common race and common cause.There was nothing singular, nothing peculiar, about them. They typified millions so like to themselves as to constitute a mighty host of undistinguishable fighting men of hardy stock. A tribute to either is a tribute to all.

Though different in rank, these two soldiers were as one in patriotism, in fidelity, in honour,and in courage. They were comrades in the roar of battle. They are comrades in the peace of this sacred place.

One, the soldier of the Empire, made the supreme sacrifice, and, to the glory of the country whose faith he kept, he lies at rest in this hallowed ground enshrined in grateful memory. The other, equally noble and equally beloved, is by my side. Both live and will ever live in the hearts of their countrymen.

What more fitting than that this soldier of the great Republic should place this rare and precious token of appreciation and affection of a hundred millions of kinsmen upon the tomb of his comrade, the soldier of the mighty Empire! Proudly and reverently, by authority of the Congress and the President, I call upon the General of the Armies of the United States, fifth only in line as the successor of Washington, Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan, to bestow the Medal of Honour upon this typical British soldier who, though, alas! in common with thousands of others, “unknown and unidentified,” shall never be “unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.”

Then General Pershing said:

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.

On the conclusion of his speech the Congressional Medal of Honour was handed by Admiral Niblack to General Pershing, who, stooping down, laid it on the grave, above the breast of the unknown hero beneath. Shining there, with its long ribbon of watered blue silk, it lay, a symbol of the past, a pledge for the future.

And General Pershing stood at the salute to his fallen comrade.

Which is entirely appropriate as well. As most of my American readers will be aware, the recipient of the Medal of Honor is entitled to be saluted first by all American service members.

[It should also be noted that on Armistice Day that year, by order of the King, the American Unknown Soldier was awarded the Victoria Cross. ]

There is considerably more, here is the link to the entire article from the Times, it is very moving.

After all the speeches and the award, the congregation joined in singing

All across the English Speaking World, people today will be remembering those incredibly brave soldiers of Freedom, from all over the world, who fought that war. In Canada and the United Kingdom especially there is a hymn associated with it.

Take a moment today to thank God for our gallant allies in that greatest alliance of the free ever seen, the British Commonwealth and the United States.

That service in Westminster Abbey ended with this

For The Fallen
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Binyon

From Forests to Sagebrush

Charter of the Forest, 1225 reissue, held by the British Library

Some of you probably remember the Sagebrush Rebellion, which started back in the 1970s. It was about control of federal lands, in the American West, which can constitute between 18 and 85% of our western states. For the most part, this is land that couldn’t be homesteaded because it lacked water, or in any case, you’d starve trying to do anything with only 160 acres of it. Let’s let Wikipedia explain since they sound pretty close to me.

Various bills intended to transfer federal public lands to western states had been proposed after 1932, all failing to garner much attention, let alone action. Among key objections to such transfers were the increasing value to the federal treasury of mineral lease receipts and complaints that the “crown jewels” of the national lands holdings, the National Parks, could not be managed adequately or fairly by individual states. Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks were considered to be national treasures, and few legislators would concur with turning them over to the states.

The spark that turned these complaints into a “rebellion” was the enactment in 1976 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act(FLPMA) that ended homesteading, which meant that the federal government would retain control of western public lands. The act sought to establish a system of land management by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). While FLPMA required the BLM to plan land use accommodating all users, specifically naming ranching, grazing, and mining, it also introduced formal processes to consider preservation of the land from those uses.

It still echoes around in the west. That standoff near Las Vegas and the subsequent one in Idaho fit into this narrative. As long as the Federal Government is charged with maintaining these lands, it will continue.

But it didn’t start here, today marks an anniversary in one of the longest fights between the people and the rulers in history. In fact, today is the 800th anniversary of the Forest Charter of Henry III, sealed at St Paul’s Cathedral. It was issued during Henry’s minority, by William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, a man with a strong claim to be the best English knight, ever, who was serving as the King’s regent. From 6 November 1317, it has always been associated with Magna Charta, and in truth, it is related, but where Magna Charta deals with the rights of the barons, mostly, Carta Foresta deals with the rights of the common people. Again from Wikipedia.

‘Forest’ to the Normans meant an enclosed area where the monarch (or sometimes another aristocrat) had exclusive rights to animals of the chase and the greenery (“vert”) on which they fed. It did not consist only of trees, but included large areas of heathland, grassland and wetlands, productive of food, grazing and other resources. Lands became more and more restricted as King Richard and King John designated greater and greater areas as royal forest. At its widest extent, royal forest covered about one-third of the land of southern England. Thus it became an increasing hardship on the common people to try to farm, forage, and otherwise use the land they lived on.

The Charter of the Forest was first issued on 6 November 1217 at St Paul’s Cathedral, London as a complementary charter to the Magna Carta from which it had evolved. It was reissued in 1225 with a number of minor changes to wording, and then was joined with Magna Carta in the Confirmation of Charters in 1297.

At a time when the royal forests were the most important potential source of fuel for cooking, heating and industries such as charcoal burning, and of such hotly defended rights as pannage (pasture for their pigs), estover (collecting firewood), agistment (grazing), or turbary(cutting of turf for fuel), this charter was almost unique in providing a degree of economic protection for free men who used the forest to forage for food and to graze their animals. In contrast to Magna Carta, which dealt with the rights of barons, it restored to the common man some real rights, privileges and protections against the abuses of an encroaching aristocracy. For many years it was regarded as a development of great moment in England’s constitutional history, with the great seventeenth-century jurist Sir Edward Coke referring to it along with Magna Carta as the Charters of England’s Liberties, and Sir William Blackstone remarking “There is no transaction in the antient part of our English history more interesting and important than the Great Charter and the Charter of the Forest”.

The first chapter of the Charter protected common pasture in the forest for all those “accustomed to it”, and chapter nine provided for “every man to agist his wood in the forest as he wishes”. It added “Henceforth every freeman, in his wood or on his land that he has in the forest, may with impunity make a mill, fish-preserve, pond, marl-pit, ditch, or arable in cultivated land outside coverts, provided that no injury is thereby given to any neighbour.”. The Charter restored the area classified as “forest” to that of Henry II’s time.

Clause 10 repealed the death penalty (and mutilation as a lesser punishment) for capturing deer (venison), though transgressors were still subject to fines or imprisonment. Special Verderers’ Courts were set up within the forests to enforce the laws of the Charter.

We should also note that even this Charter was the re-establishment of rights that had been eroded by William the Conqueror and his heirs, up until that time. It is truly a fight that never will be won, as long as we need government, and we cherish our rights. Another one of those battles, and mileposts, like Magna Charta that echo through Anglo-American history, and show us how different we are from most of the world, and why that is important.

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