Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Change of the Seasons

Sixty three years after D-Day the ghostly 8th Airforce bomber fields are silent, unvisited by men now too old to make the pilgrimage. Across the green counties, "Muhammad is now second only to Jack as the most popular name for baby boys in Britain and is likely to rise to No 1 by next year, a study by The Times has found." The twenty first century was widely predicted to be the century of Europe. For those who are interested such cheerful titles as Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century, United States of Europe : The Superpower No-One Talks About, and The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream are all available from Amazon, reminders of how the world can change so quickly. There was this dream, but history had other plans.

Once it was possible to talk of the continuity of centuries. Hitler was going to build his twisted thousand-year Reich. Across the Channel an embattled Winston Churchill looked back across Britain's centuries and spoke too, of a thousand years.


But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."

It was. Sixty three years was a good run.

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire.

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

8 Comments:

Blogger Dan Patterson said...

Men do not come into the world as good and decent beings--charitable, kind to strangers, selfless and pure. Instead we emerge screaming as hungry animals with a demanding instinct to survive at any cost, and it is only because our mothers have an instinct to provide are we able to live. As generations have passed a sense of honor, duty, decency, and justice was cultivated that has allowed men to civilize and live together with mutual benefit and agreement. An unfortunate fact is that along with that civilizing influence other cancerous ones grew as well, and World War Two was the inevitable and possibly cyclical collision that results. It is axiomatic that the big one's eat the little one's, the strong take from the weak, and to the victor go the spoils. The men at D-Day put a stop to that.

To view the efforts of the men of the Normandy Invasion as a tactical example of military maneuvers misses the larger point of their heroic sacrifice: To protect liberty at the risk of their own lives. And to protect their comrades from the enemy, and be willing to pay the ultimate price for it. Those men did not drop from the skies, wade and then run, bleed and die on the sand in order to conquer a foreign land for its raw materials. There was no desire to expand the borders of a host nation and enslave a people. They saw a very real and dangerous threat to liberty and chose not to run from it but to battle against it against nauseating odds.

Because of men like those men like me have the luxury of editorializing and learning from history. In other times I would have grown up as a slave to the conquerer, or crushed under the wheels of a re-education campaign. But because of the debt paid for me by men like those of Easy Company, and countless others, I live in the lap of luxury damnned by my inability to thank them for their sacrifice.

A special prayer today for the men who answered the call.

Dan Patterson

6/06/2007 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Ed in Kanata said...

I remember standing by the school railings in front of the tank traps watching the convoys of trucks going down to London Docks before D-Day.

Now, after 60 years of socialism its not the same country, not the same spirit. nor the same place. When I look back at growing up in England in wartime the optimism and determination of the people was incredible.

Now it is just the U.S. that hasn't been bitten by socialism - beware, it will rot your soul.

6/06/2007 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger Mitch said...

It's funny, how ordinary the guys who fought in that war were. One of my neighbors, the one who always pats my dog, was a gunner on an LST (that's either "Landing Ship Tank" or "Large Slow Target," depending on who you ask) on D-Day. They brought troops, trucks, jeeps, and tanks to the beach and brought wounded soldiers back. Dead ones could wait.

After the war, he worked as a barber. Next time you get a haircut, imagine the barber firing a .30 cal. machine gun ("They had .50's and twin .30's later, the lucky bastards. I might have hit something!") at an enemy airplane strafing you.

6/06/2007 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

He who is kind to the cruel is cruel to the kind.

There was a chance to kill the enemy's agents within, when the soviets opened their archives. But we are careless and soft and missed that opportunity. Though it's never too late.

6/06/2007 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger tony said...

I too have (& had) relatives from the greatest generation who fought in Europe, N. Africa and Burma.

But today I still do not need to look far for inspiration as my brother has flown hundreds of misions in Iraq and Afghanistan, provided relief in Sierra Leone and despair to the invaders of the Falkland Islands.

1940 and "Britain alone" was indeed our finest hour but we make too large a concession to the wowsers and sneerers if we fail to acknowledge that we are still capable of some damned fine minutes!

6/07/2007 12:17:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

History is a Random Walk holding the hand of Demographics on the left and the hand of the Intellectuals with the right.

You cannot let go of both hands at the same time.

6/07/2007 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

In 1939, a far poorer and relatively unarmed West faced down two of the most formidable military machines ever to roam the planet, destroyed them both within half a decade and presided over the rehabilitation of the societies which had created them.

By contrast, today an astonishingly wealthier U.S. spends more on its military than the next dozen or so nations combined. This is why all the talk about being stretched thin and the failure to prosecute this war and the reconstruction of Iraq to the fullest measure of our capabilities strikes me as a failure of political and societal will our grandfathers would not have allowed.

6/07/2007 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

Mohammed as second most popular boys name sounds very impressive.
Mohammed as 6,000 boys out of c.300,000 male births, not so much.

6/08/2007 02:46:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger