Veterans Day

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 11th, 2011

So few serve in the military.  And yet they do so much.  More than we can ever imagine.  These few share the worst of combat.  Fear.  Sorrow.  And death.  Many don’t come home.  Those who do carry these memories with them the rest of their lives.  Their worst memories.  And their best memories.  For the bonds they form with their brothers in arms during dire moments are bonds like no others.  It’s these bonds that get them through combat.  And the memories that follow.

It’s this brotherhood under dire moments that make these ordinary people do extraordinary things.  It’s what makes one expose oneself to enemy fire to pull a fallen comrade to safety.  Or not retreat when under fire by a superior force.  Or charge into a superior force.  They do these extraordinary things not for God or country.  They do it for each other.  For each other is all they have.  And they will sacrifice everything for their comrade.  Who will sacrifice everything for them.

William Shakespeare captured this well in Henry V, a fictional play based on historical events.  King Henry and his band were on the wrong side of the English Channel.  Trying to get home to England.  And outnumbered.  On the eve of battle King Henry gives the famous St. Crispin’s Day Speech to rally his men.  Here is an excerpt:

That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

King Henry and his band of brothers were victorious in battle.

Never forget what our veterans do.  Honor them today.  And every day.  Until the ending of the world.

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