The Week

Well, we haven’t made the UK look all that good this week (from the US perspective) but that’s not completely fair. From Fox News.

Fox also says that this chant thundered through the crowd.

Oh Tommy Tommy, Tommy Tommy Tommy Tommy Robinson

As it should and should be cheered to the echo by Americans

I think a pint might be in order.

Even in England

John Hinderaker from PowerLine comments:

The New York Post says that protesters “by the tens of thousands” staged a “massive” demonstration against President Trump today. Perhaps so. But what you see in the photo is Parliament Square. If there were tens of thousands, they must have been somewhere else.

 

We don’t do kittehs here, but all rules have exceptions

From PowerLine and elsewhere

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Duty, and Honor

So this happened, as it should have.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

This Year, in Jerusalem

And so, the world changes a bit more. 70 years to the day, after the United States recognized the State of Israel, the first in the world to do so, when it declared its independence, the United States, opens its embassy in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. It is also 51 years since Jerusalem was reunited after the Six Day War.

Long overdue, in fact, mandated when Clinton was president, finally, it is done. You can watch it here.

 

 

Should I also note, on time and under budget? Although 50 years late, really.

He is Risen Indeed!

This is not what Jessica had here, nor do I remember what it was, in any case, it is no longer available. I know however that this is her favorite contemporary Easter worship song so it will do. This is her post replying to mine published earlier. Enjoy! Neo

So it is here, the day of days!  For those of us who have observed some Lenten practice, there is almost a mixed feeling – having acquired the habit of giving up something, and taking something on, the challenge is not to give both up. It is some index of the society in which we live that where for Christians this is the greatest day of the year, the secular world, not really knowing what to do with it, prefers Christmas, which is more easily co-opted into a spend-fest.

He is Risen. What does that mean to each of us? We can only answer for ourselves, although each of us is an integral part of what it means because Jesus died for each of us. That, for me, is the truly awesome (in its real sense) part of the Easter message. As I prayed at the altar of repose on Thursday night, I knew that I’d have been one of those falling asleep in Gethsemane; on Good Friday amidst the funereal gloom of the Stations of the Cross, there was a sense that my sins were the stripes He bore; much as I flinched from them, it occurred to me to wonder whether I flinched so easily from occasions of sin? At the Easter Vigil last night, as the Church was bathed in light, there was that sense that all had now changed. It changed for us all when He said to the Father ‘thy will be done’; it can change for us when we follow His example.

I live in the UK, a particularly secular part of a secularising Continent; America has more of a sense of what this day means to mankind, and long may that be the case. For all the effects of the culture wars, America still has more Christians than anywhere outside of China, and Christianity is still vital. The shining city on the hill is no secular vision.

Yet, how divided we appear to the world. How unable to take on board His message that we should ‘be one’ and that it would be through our mutual love that we would show the world who our Lord was. We say much, but too often what we say to each other sounds to the listening world negative and limiting. Pope Francis was not saying we should not talk about sexual sins and abortion, indeed he has rightly said abortion is a dreadful crime against humanity, but he was reminding us that there is a media out there which will always take the chance to make us sound as though we are obsessed with negative – ‘do not do this’. Yet we are reminded, on this greatest of days, that Jesus’ formulation of the Law was a positive one:

 “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

If we think of ‘being good’ merely doing no harm, we miss the positive message of the Resurrection. Our love for each other is communicated in action, and if our actions to each other as Christians contradict the message of universal love He brought, then our witness is not only impaired; it is fruitless.

We love Him because He first loved us, though we are sinners. If He can love us, we can try, in His name, to love each other. As dear Dolly Parton sings, “He’s alive, and I’m forgiven, Heaven’s Gates are opened wide.”

A happy Easter to all our readers.

Back Into the Wasteland, Again

The Hollow Men 5

Yesterday was about as depressing as a post consisting of videos could possibly be. Sometimes to me, and to Britons who remember a Britain that was much better, as many of us do with America, it is heartbreaking. But as we all know, facts don’t care about our feelings. We must carry on, and do the right things in the right way. This article of Jess’ touches on the theme.

If you found yesterday’s videos as bad as I did, chronicling the decline of the civilization that built the modern world, well, it speaks to that. Here’s Jessica –


 

Into the Wasteland

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

The opening lines of T.S. Eliot’s 1925 poem speak with eloquence to any age and people who feel disconnected from what they feel is a calamitous and collapsing socio-political world.

Eliot was writing in the aftermath of the most catastrophic war in the history of the Western world. It was the war when hope died. How could one believe in progress after the Somme and the horrors of the Western Front? And what had all of that slaughter been for? A settlement at Versailles which few believed would really bring peace to the world.  Men like Wilson and Hoover, or MacDonald and Baldwin, seemed small men facing giant problems, and sure enough, within fifteen years the world had once more descended into the abyss.

Does the fault lie in our leaders? They do, indeed, seem to be hollow men, with heads stuffed with straw. The words of Yeats’ Second Coming seem apposite to our times:

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.

Writing in 1919, Yeats wondered:   

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand

But it was not so. In Lord of the Rings, Frodo tells Gandalf that he wishes he did not live in the time he did, when such dreadful things were happening. Gandalf’s reply is for all of us:
‘So do I,  said Gandalf, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’

It is not for us to decide such things. All each of us can do in the end is to decide how we live our lives and by what star we steer. Those of us with a Christian faith, like Tolkien himself, know we are strangers in this world, and we know by whose star we steer. We can rage all we like against the way the world seems to be going, so did our forefathers, and so will our descendants. Eliot ends with a dying fall:

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

But Yeats, in best prophetic mode wondered:

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

For me, Eliot’s words in Ash Wednesday ring truest:

Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently, I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us


That’s pretty much what the world feels like, increasingly to me, at least, it seems that we may have to simply burn it down and try to rebuild in the ruins. But I continue to hope not, so we will see. And there is hope.

In the United States for all the cacophony from the left and the media (yes, I repeat myself) we seem to have at least arrested the regression and in some ways are returning to our self-imposed mission to keep the torch of liberty lighted. Where we lead, others may well follow. If you remember, when Cassandra opened her box of troubles, the one thing left in that accurséd box was hope.

In many ways, Kipling in ‘A Dead Statesman’, written around the end of World War I, asked the question I think our political leadership should have to answer

I could not dig; I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?

But he also wrote the inscription for the war dead of Sault St. Marie, Ontario, Canada, which ends:

From little towns in a far land, we came
To save our honour, and a world aflame;
By little towns in a far land, we sleep
And trust those things we won, to you to keep.

Dare we break that trust? If we, the Anglo-Saxons, don’t do it, it will not be done.

As Jess said above, we don’t get to pick the era in which we live, we are simply called to do the best we can. And so we shall, God willing.  Neo

 

There Will be Battles Won

The Marines made a return to Super Bowl advertising last weekend, but only online. Seems reasonable, since they tend to get the short end of the stick fiscally pretty regularly. It’s down in the post. I think you’ll like it, I do.

But let’s talk about military recruitment ads a bit. The British army also has some new ads out, and they’ve been fairly controversial.

To be honest, I don’t hate them. If I think back to how I was in my teens and early 20s, I doubt they would have been effective with me, but the American Midwest in the early 70s is not 2018 Britain. Presumably, MOD know what they are about.

I rather do agree with Piers Morgan of all people though.

The Telegraph did some interviews about it as well

Well, we’ve had our share of similar ads. ‘A force for good’ anyone. It’s fine, the Navy is, but I doubt it has much to do with why people join. Same with most of the rest.

Friends tell me that the Royal Marine adverts are rather different, rather more like the USMC ones. Good on the Bootnecks, breaking things and killing people is the reason we have soldiers, even when they come from the sea.

But nobody does it like the Few, the Loud, and the Proud, Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children.

And now we have leadership, including a President, that believes in winning, and often does. Piers Morgan recently wrote…

I think the reason for this simple: success.

Trump’s entire DNA is predicated on winning. Every sinew of his being for the past 50 years has pulsated with a burning, insatiable desire to win.

‘You’ve gotta win,’ Trump once told me. ‘That’s what it’s all about. You know, Muhammad Ali used to talk and talk, but he won. If you talk and talk but you lose, the act doesn’t play.’

I think that is true, it’s not the money, the prestige, or even the power, it’s winning the contest. There’s somebody else in Washington like that, and this one is Secretary of Defense. His name is James Mattis, and his reputation is as the patron saint of (other people’s) chaos. He wrote…

I’m not subtle. I need to make the military more lethal,” Mattis said. “Some people think I’m supposed to be an equal opportunity employer.”

My Army friends sometimes said the Marines were always “Hey diddle, diddle, straight up the middle”. 🙂 Maybe so, but you know sometimes that’s all that works.

And the new ad:

Rather says it all.

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