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Sunday, November 13, 2005

What gave us freedom?

I came across this poem today, and even though a couple of days late, I thought it would be timely to share here.

Dear lefties...

It Is The Soldier

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Charles Michael Province, U.S. Army
Copyright Charles M. Province, 1970, 2005
ยท Linked Article

Posted by Bernard Woolley | 11/13/2005 12:19:00 pm


Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

I think one of us should join the US Marines. Volunteers? Can foreigners even join the Marines without first having some sort of visa?

11/13/2005 01:57:00 pm  
Blogger Murray said...

They're kind of fussy about you being

A: American.
B: Not middle aged.
C: Not podgy.
D: Not notorious for answering back.
E: All of the above.

11/13/2005 03:32:00 pm  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

Isn't that what the French Foreign Legion is for? ;)

11/13/2005 04:08:00 pm  
Blogger Mellie said...

Couldn't disagree with you more.

Do we owe every waking moment, every ounce of happiness to the soldier? When the people protest, when they ask for change - who is in their way?

The poor, the peasants. When they rise up, who protects the rich?

The civilian. Who gets shot first?

Yes the soldier has protected the liberties of civilians, but it has not won us them. The soldier fights to restore order, to restore the status quo. It does not fight to bring about change. It does not fight to protect the poor.

The soldier is given orders, and those orders do not come from the people. There is no vicarious accountability for those who give the orders.

The soldier does not fight for the people.

The soldier fights under oath, under order. The soldier fights for glory, for nation, for pride. The soldier does not fight for the weak.

The soldier fights under oath, under order. The soldier fights for goals not their own. The soldier fights because they must.

The soldier is left to burn in the desert, to freeze in the mountains. The soldier's ultimate master does not share his bed-pan or water flask. The soldier lives alone, fights alone, and dies alone.

The soldier bears the brunt. The grunt bears the blame. The soldier cannot win honour except that which its ultimate master deigns to dispense. The soldier attracts every dishonour which its ultimate master needs to dispense.

The Soldier is a giver of many things. The right to life, happiness and love however are not among them.


11/13/2005 04:44:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Some good counter points Mellie. But is it "us and them"

When it comes down to it, the soldier could be your brother, your friend, your neighbour; and they step forward and give up their civilian life to fight to defend it.

Some soldiers do fight for the people.

It's a mixed bag, and every-one plays a part. It's worth while to remember how the pieces all fit together. It's also worthwhile to recognise the price one might pay being true to their values.

11/13/2005 04:52:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

(A) and (D) are a bit of an issue.

11/13/2005 05:13:00 pm  
Blogger Andy said...

Foreigners can enlist in the US military but cannot serve as officers.

It is a good path to US citizenship.

2 Kiwi's serving in the US military died during the Vietnam war. One was a marine.

They were James Edward Lott A Marine Corps Coporal

and Harry Payne Burton Sgt First Class in the Armoured Cavalry

At least one Kiwi Marine served during the Gulf war.

I wonder if any are in Iraq today.

11/13/2005 05:58:00 pm  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

Mellie - no we don't owe everything to them. But if it wasn't for the Allied soliders in the two world wars to date, we likely wouldn't have freedom now.

My point in making this post is that too often these days are the military left of of our list of what makes us truely free and places us where we are today.

I do agree that especially militaries in non-free countries don't deserve this sort of comment. Ours however do because they are not used against the people.

The military, as other people in society, such as the police, fire service, ambulance officers etc often give up portions of their life or even their whole life - solely to keep our relative freedoms. They have to see and do things that you would not wish on normal members of society.

What sort of person joins the Fire Service? What sort of person joins the Police? Perhaps a similar sort of person that just wants to help in some way, shape or form? Just because someone joins the military, doesn't mean they have a latent desire to murder someone - just that they recognise that they may one day have to. Luckily in this day our New Zealand military is playing a more positive role in security and reconstruction.

Do you think they join just so they can hose the remains of MVA's off the road? No they don't - but its part of the job. Just as killing other humans is a small part of the military role. What about the military in reconstruction? In providing aid? In providing security so that elections can be held?

Still, I guess I should expect that sort of crap from a cartoonist. I would take the article a lot more seriously if it came from that has had do things that most of society is shielded from.

11/13/2005 06:28:00 pm  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

I do agree that especially militaries in non-free countries don't deserve this sort of comment. Ours however do because they are not used against the people.

That should have read..

Ours however do because they are not used against our people.

I definitely have issues when the military is used against its citizens - such as using chemical weapons against the Kurds.

11/13/2005 06:31:00 pm  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

And in terms of civilians, I'm fairly certain that civilian casualties are well recognised. I went to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC and it was a very interesting and thought provoking experience. Especially the part where they assign you a civilians profile, and you learn more information about them as you go through, and find out eventually whether the person lived or died. I know some people that don't have the fortitude to attend such a memorial to civilian casualties of war.

11/13/2005 06:46:00 pm  
Blogger Psycho Milt said...

So you're in agreement with Marxists that those with power never give it up peacefully and advances are usually made through armed struggle? Personally I think that's going way too far. After all, the soldiers that won those things were fighting other soldiers - so it's not "the soldier", but soldiers on what history eventually demonstrates to have been on the right side that we owe those things to.

The US Army has been on both sides of that divide over the centuries. The soldiers I meet at work are mostly very morally aware people who see themselves as armed upholders of the US Constitution. None of them strikes me as a murder enthusiast, but they all recognise there are people out there who mean harm to the US and the soldiers' job is to kill those guys with the greatest achievable efficiency. I have a lot more respect for them now than I had 2 years ago.

11/13/2005 07:00:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

"So you're in agreement with Marxists that those with power never give it up peacefully and advances are usually made through armed struggle?"

I didn't see it as an all or nothing statement we were talking about P.M, more of a positive recognition of what a soldiers place in our society can be, and sometimes, has to be.

Glad to hear some of that has rubbed off on you, following contact.

11/13/2005 08:39:00 pm  
Blogger Mellie said...

Glad to see that the post wasn't as slavish as I had originally thought. I agree that armed forces play a major role in peace and stability - my [over-emphasised?] point was that where political and civil liberties have been secured, more often than the change has come from within, not without - (eg. compare the 1960s civil rights to the Iraq war). I pretty much jumped in because the poem appears to ignore the fact that people die in their own country to secure such liberties, who aren't soldiers.

11/13/2005 11:05:00 pm  

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