May 29th, 2006


"They Were Soldiers Once," by Jay Elias

93, all!

I am a patriotic sap who posts patriotic sappery, like clockwork, on every remotely patriotic holiday. I write it all myself.

Until this time.

Somebody named Jay Elias posted a piece last March that has haunted me ever since. I think you might like to read it. It's about supporting our troops, though in a way that will probably surprise you. Here's a taste:

"Do you know what a soldier is, young man? He's the chap who makes it possible for civilised folk to despise war." -- Alan Massie, A Question of Loyalties

"The feeling about a soldier is, when all is said and done, he wasn't really going to do very much with his life, anyway. The example usually is: 'he wasn't going to compose Beethoven's Fifth.'" -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., City Lights

We don't think much about the soldier. We think about the men and women of our armed forces, the families they leave behind, the equipment they are or are not given by the State. We think about the rightness of their mission, or the probable chances of success. It has become a common phrase of our times that we all "Support Our Troops," but we think little of what that means, beyond their pay and benefits, and whether or not we send them to battles worth fighting or not. But what of the individual soldier, who goes where he or she is told, to do the job they are assigned by leaders they will likely never meet?

I hope you'll read the rest of it. It's right here:

On Memorial Day 2006 -- in honor of both the fallen, and those who soldier on, from the undersigned grateful blowhard in these United States.

93 93/93 -- AJ