Monday, May 28, 2007

On Remembering the Heroic Sacrifice to Vertical Principles

In the space of just a generation or two, we have gone from the cultural ideal of the hero to the ideal of the antihero, the former being a rebel with a transcendent cause, the latter being a rebellious person without one. In light of this, Memorial Day almost seems quaint to many people, while for the left, it can only be a day of perversion and/or frank rebellion. John Edwards' attempt to turn the day into a protest against the military is about as cynical and low as it gets. Might as well turn the Martin Luther King Holiday into a celebration of petty racial divisiveness instead of the universal heroic struggle for human liberation.... Oh, wait a minute....

Although I revere Frithjof Schuon (among other men of singular spiritual genius), obviously I cannot go along with his total condemnation of modernity. And yet, I do wonder: is man becoming -- or has he already become -- something he was never intended to be? Are we, as a result of liberty, democracy, and especially the free market, achieving our potential, or are we deviating further and further away from it? Undoubtedly it is a bit of both, and it is critical that we understand which is which -- or, to ask it another way, what are the novel developments that bring us closer to our divine archetype -- that "please God," if you like -- and what are those that pull us further down into the mud?

I would never argue against the freedom of the free market; and yet, at the same time, it does need to be acknowledged that the radical transformations brought about by the market create a new kind of environment which no human actually created but to which we must nevertheless adapt. The things to which we must adapt range from being annoying to vacuous to satanic, and it is important that we not confuse who we are eternally with the transient conditions to which we must adapt. This is surely one of the purposes of religion: to show us the real human ideal and to keep the enduring goal of life in view, irrespective of the local conditions in which we find ourselves.

Indeed, one of the many miracles of scripture is that it somehow equally applies to barbarian nomadic tribes 3000 years ago as it does to modern people today. It is analogous to a great work of art, which is characterized by three things: universality, timelessness, and inexhaustibility. First, great art is universal -- it is trans- and cross-cultural, in such a way that any human being can love and appreciate it. This is why, for example, the moment man became man, he was capable of memorializing that fact with the artistic perfection seen in the cave paintings at Altamira or Lascaux. Our culture could not possibly be more different from their's, and yet, we are still astoneaged by the transcendent beauty that radiates from their hands.

Just as art and scripture are universal, they are timeless. Another way of saying it is that they partake of eternity, or that eternity radiates or is "transmitted" through them. This reminds me of our recent bonehead atheist visitors, who would undoubtedly say, "Duh, Bob, can you prove that?" To which I can only say, "yes, but not to you." All Raccoons are lovers of art, but not just any art. Rather, art that specifically transmits implicit knowledge of eternity and of eternal things. That the atheist is mired down below in the material mind is "not our problem." It would only become a problem if they were to somehow become the majority and therefore enfarce, even if unwettingly, their dryasdust infrahuman (and as always, I mean this literally, not as some sort of insult) voyage on the ocean of being.

Finally, great art and scripture are inexhaustible; which is to say, they partake of the infinite. What intrigues me, as a music lover, is how this quality of inexhaustibility can even be mysteriously present in a three-minute pop or blues number that was never intended to be more than jazz-age diversion or hippie FMera. I will admit that I am unable at this point in my life to truly appreciate the bottomless depths of Bach or Beethoven, but frankly, this is because I am still too distracted by lesser music that, in a way, is more mysterious for being so simple.

I don't want to get sidetracked into a musical discussion here, but an example that comes readily to mind is, say, the beautiful timbre of Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar. Not the fluid virtuosity, the speed, the spontaneous creativity, just the pure sound itself. I am aware of at least one Raccoon who knows exactly what I'm talking about with regard to SRV's unique sound-signature. This tone cuts straight through to the soul (one of the ways we know we have one), but one wonders how? The same can be said for Van Morrison's growl, or Brian Wilson's blend of harmonies, or Sonny Rollins' sax tone, or the suspended silence between Bill Evans' piano notes. These are inexhaustible mysteries to which I can be exposed again and again without boredom or "saturation" ever setting in. It is always new -- which, of course, is one of the primary characteristics of the Old One.

God makes all things new -- which is why boredom is impossible on the spiritual path, or the "adventure of consciousness." This is yet another completely obvious statement that the atheist cannot possibly know (or he wouldn't be an atheist). And although this is a spiritual truth, it is actually something I discovered during the course of my psychotherapy, in particular, a period that lasted for several years in the late '80s and early 90s. I had finished my Ph.D., was married, and had finally left the supermarket for a "career" as a psychologist. I had even begun to publish papers in professional journals. And yet, something was wrong. I won't go into all the details, but the point is that I was unable to "renew my mind." Instead of the open spiral -- the adventure of consciousness -- I was on the line or circle. I had taken things as far as I could on the "human plane," so to speak, and I suppose it was pretty far by conventional standards. However, if I had stayed on that path, my life would have been more or less of a waste.

Not until I discovered the open circle of the higher life -- the divine-human limited lieability partnership -- did things really take off. But here is what I mean about the dangers of the modern society to which we must adapt. The only way you can vault yourself into this open circle is by detaching yourself, in one way or another, from the "world" as it is given to us. Thus, to an outside observer, it probably looked as if less and less were happening in my life, when the reverse was true: more and more was happening, only on a different plane.

The Orthodox Way begins with an anecdote about one of the Desert Fathers who went on a pilgrimage to Rome. There he "was told of a celebrated recluse, a woman who lived always in one small room, never going out. Skeptical about her way of life -- for he was a great wanderer -- he called on her and asked: 'Why are you sitting here?' To which she replied: 'I am not sitting. I am on a journey.'

"Every Christian may apply these words to himself or herself. To be a Christian is to be a traveller.... We live in tents, not houses, for spiritually we are always on the move. We are on a journey through the inward space of the heart, a journey not measured by the hours of our watch or the days of the calendar, for it is a journey out of time into eternity."

Damn, I had intended this post to delve more deeply into the spiritual meaning and significance of the heroism of the men who have fought and died for our liberty. Let us just say that there are many Americans who maintain that the person who risks his life in defense of a transcendent ideal that doesn't actually exist can only be a fool, a loser, a victim. This is what the leftist means when he affirms his support of the troops. Our fighting men and women are too stupid to even know that they are simply being used by George Bush and his cronies -- which is a transparent projection of the utter cynicism, the complete spiritual vacuum at the heart of the left.

For if you have rejected God and cut yourself off from the transcendent plane, you must be a cynic. Or put it this way: you are either a believer or you are a cynic, and if you are a cynic, you are condemned to a plane in which the mind and spirit cannot renew themselves, for the simple reason that you are not an "open system," open to the source of our being. Therefore, among other things, you must compensate for the renewal of your mind with manic and pointless activities and pursuits. You may think you are excitedly "running to," but you are simply running from. You are not an activist but a lacktivist. Raccoons certainly see it, even if you can't. Frankly, you are pathetic -- which we say with empathy, not hostility.

The reason the cynic is cynical is because he has cashed in transcendence for immanence. Therefore, his cynicism is simply a natural reflection of his flatland existence. Just as hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, cynicism is the backhanded tribute immanence pays to transcendence -- or perhaps a sort of petty pleasure one takes in one's own self-imposed hexisle in the horizontal. And for the same reason these people are so cynical about weighty matters, they are the most gullible in their acceptance of shallow trivialities which rush in to fill the void, such as Al Gore's weather hysteria.

But the point of today's holiday is to honor those heroes who are heroic because they embodied and fought for the transcendent ideal of spiritual liberty -- not for the United States per se, but only insofar as the United States is the embodiment and realization of a spiritual ideal. Their lives and deaths have only been in vain to the extent that we squander our own God-given liberty and abandon the spiritual principles upon which this country was founded. Can you imagine the pain of thinking you had given your life for Paris Hilton or Bill Maher? I know that Raccoons know that this is not said in bitterness, but to illuminate a critically important principle.

To put it another way, although we can never repay the debt of gratitude we owe to these men and women, the only way we can begin to make it up to them is by living the transcendent ideal for which they gave their lives. It is the only way they -- and mankind -- can fulfill their spiritual mission in the divine spiral. So long as your life is not spiritually in vain, then neither will theirs' have been. It is something I never allow myself to forget.

(By the way, if there are any vets or active military out there -- or family -- who would like a free copy of my book, just drop me an email.)

50 Comments:

Blogger NoMo said...

"Indeed, one of the many miracles of scripture is that it somehow equally applies to barbarian nomadic tribes 3000 years ago as it does to modern people today."

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
(Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33)

Indeed. That's a memorial

5/28/2007 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

"And for the same reason these people are so cynical about weighty matters, they are the most gullible in their acceptance of shallow trivialities which rush in to fill the void'.."

Cynicism is the best and only hope of the unbeliever.

5/28/2007 08:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Kshatriya said...

The thing about soldiering to remember is that it is a profession.

The soldier-dharma, as it were, is deeply entrenched in the human psyche.

The 'ideal' for which he fights is to protect the weak from aggressors. However, this ideal is of relatively small importance in the cosmos of the soldier.

His (or her) main preoccupation is with showing courage and supporting and loving fellow soldiers in the immediate circle, usually at the squad or platoon level.

We have a nurses day, a secretary's day, etc.

This is soldier's day--because we want and need what they do.

However, soldiers are not usually coerced. They want to fight. They need to fight. That is what they do.

No soldier is a fool, no matter how flawed his commanders are.

5/28/2007 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Very good point: the soldier ultimately fights for love. But as always, it depends upon what you love, which is why there is no symmetry between American soldiers and their enemies.

5/28/2007 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Along similar lines, a beautiful post by Dr. Sanity.

5/28/2007 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

She is so correct, by the way, with the metaphor of "America the Singularity."

5/28/2007 09:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said more to compliment yourself (I took myself farther than most people) than about the remembering the dead on Memorial day. Therefore you love yourself and you hate America. Just joking of course.

5/28/2007 09:25:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>>Are we, as a result of liberty, democracy, and especially the free market, achieving our potential, or are we deviating further and further away from it?Are we, as a result of liberty, democracy, and especially the free market, achieving our potential, or are we deviating further and further away from it?<<

Yes, undoubtedly both - because we *are* free to choose. I think freedom of choice implies ultimate ends, and that's why there is increasing polarization re; what we are choosing. Eventually, I think, the polarization of choice will be complete, which I think is the meaning of "Armageddon."

>>boredom is impossible on the spiritual path, or the "adventure of consciousness." <<

I think it's possible in a way, but the boredom itself is rather interesting as a state of consciousness or as a "symbol," etc., and that, of course, negates the boredom.

>>To put it another way, although we can never repay the debt of gratitude we owe to these men and women, the only way we can begin to make it up to them is by living the transcendent ideal for which they gave their lives.<<

To immodestly quote an echoing line from my own Memorial Day poem . . .

"And If they ask anything of us
It is that we simply live and die
In the manner they summarized . . . "

5/28/2007 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Anonymous:

It is not possible to denigrate one's former self without at least implicitly elevating one's present self. You are freed of that particular dilemma, since you will always be the same.

5/28/2007 09:41:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Thanks for posting that picture Bob. It brings it all home.

5/28/2007 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Sal said...

Bob-
a great post. We expect you to wander where you will...

I've known people so overcome by the exigencies of modern existence and the strains it puts on them spiritually that they really wish they had lived in another time, usually the 13th century.
I think they truly believe that they'd actually be hangin' with Thomas Aquinas.

Their complaint is that technology has made modern life not organic. And they don't mean sprayed with pesticides- they mean it didn't grow evenly. Technology took off too swiftly, and didn't give us time to adapt to one change before another one came along.

Finney, in "Time and Again" has one character talking about the millions of tiny threads that bind us to our time. I guess the art and the music cut all those threads - or weave them in with the threads of other times- and that's why they're universal.

A Happy Memorial Day to our vets. We are so very grateful.

5/28/2007 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"To put it another way, although we can never repay the debt of gratitude we owe to these men and women, the only way we can begin to make it up to them is by living the transcendent ideal for which they gave their lives. It is the only way they -- and mankind -- can fulfill their spiritual mission in the divine spiral. So long as your life is not spiritually in vain, then neither will theirs' have been. It is something I never allow myself to forget."

Amen Bob! Amen!
Last night I stumbled across what I thought to be another inane reality show.
What caught my eye was a day in Marine Corps boot camp for Gene Simmons (of KISS) and his 14 yr. old daughter.
It was funny to watch, but his daughter did remarkably well.

At the end of the day (in reality, only half a day), the Colonel asked Gene Simmons to visit a Va or Military Medical center to visit sick Veterans.

To his credit, Mr. Simmons and his daughter did visit the Long Beach VA. and show their appreciation to the Veterans there.

When they were face to face with injured, sick and dying Veterans, they kept breaking down and crying.

I gotta admit, I never thought I would see Gene Simmons broken by Reality, but I'm glad it happened and I hope it has profound affects upon him and his family.

It probably isn't a surprise to Coons (or anyone else) that Simmons is a self-professed hedonist.

But those few days he spent around Marines and sick Veterans graced Heavenly havoc on his heart.
Simmons was humbled. Not just by seeing those Heroes of Valor in pain, but by who they were and why they chose to put their lives at risk for the Ideal.

He asked a young Iraqi War Veteran, who had lost his legs why he fought.

The young man, young enough to be his son or grandson, said:
I fight so my family and friends don't have to.
So they don't have to face the evil that is common over there.
The young man also said he would do it again, if he had the chance.
There was no nuance in this Veteran's demeanor. No doubt about what is Good or evil.

Simmons was speechless. You could see the awe and heartbreak on his face and on his daughter's face as well.

Today is a day set aside to Honor and remember those Heroes who gave their all.
To celebrate their lives, and the Ideal they fought for.
The Noble Ideal of Reality our Founders fought for.
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, and so much more..

Whenever I need a dose of Reality; a shot of Grace to put things in perspective and remind myself who I am and what I'm fightin' for (or just because those men and women are lonely and could use a word of thanks), I visit some sick Veterans.

Cuts right through any cynicism or self pity, that's for sure.

5/28/2007 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Alan said...

I saw two presidential memorial day services when living near DC - one with Clinton, one with GW. The two events could not have been more different when the presidents were there. But later, when only soldiers and average people remained, the experience was exactly the same and would be recognizable to all coons.

5/28/2007 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

I hope that I can someday truly escape the damage that the disorder called liberalism did to my mind - such that I can truly understand those who literally climb up on the cross, fully prepared to give their lives so that others might not have to. For freedom, for country. I understand friends and family, but...

Thank God for them.

5/28/2007 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Beautiful post, Bob.

And to all soldiers, thank you.

5/28/2007 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Ben:
That was superb.
Thanks.

JWM

5/28/2007 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...


Platoon

where soldiers once stood
fluttering flags speak their names
memorial day

5/28/2007 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Bob,
I don't know; those folks from Critics Anonymous and I just continue to disagree! Your meandering amongst the varied aspects of subjects - including Memorial Day - always seems stimulating and illuminating on this end, much more than a straight-on, "focused" approach would.

For instance, in the part God makes all things new, you recalled a time when "I was unable to "renew my mind". Instead of the open spiral - the adventure of consciousness - I was on the line or circle."

There was a period when this sense bogged me down as well. During that time, I had very ambivalent feelings about the military, and near-indifference to those who served. Getting off that "line or circle" changed my relationship to everything, including realizing a deep respect for those who serve.

So, you have some history there, as do I, and it is related to Memorial Day. And I find stories of how people come to value things properly to be not just interesting, but worthwhile.

(And yes, that's a great picture.)

5/28/2007 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Andreyakovich said...

...and if you are a cynic, you are condemned to a plane in which the mind and spirit cannot renew themselves, for the simple reason that you are not an "open system," open to the source of our being. Therefore, among other things, you must compensate for the renewal of your mind with manic and pointless activities and pursuits. You may think you are excitedly "running to," but you are simply running from.

I think I understand now why one of my friends is an on-and-off gambling addict. Of course, he could never understand the explanation.

5/28/2007 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Jacob C. said...

USS Ben:

Gene Simmons did an interview with Radar Magazine about that subject... I'm of the opinion that he was always a Coon in embryo, but it took this event to shock his vertical tendencies into the open.

Sample conversation:

It's not the policies and the bills; it's how we treat our military. It's how we treat our young men or women who go out there, at 18 years old, and risk their lives. There's no fame, they're certainly not getting rich, and a lot of them are dying, simply for something they believe. By the way, it's a volunteer army, all volunteer. The fact that anybody would have a fucking thing to say about that is astonishing. And the VA hospital that Sophie and I went to, it's about an hour and a half down the road from Malibu. These morons can't get up off their asses and out of their $10 million homes, get into their SUVs, and drive down to the VA hospital just to say, "Hey, what you do matters." Doesn't matter what they think of President Bush. It matters that 18-year-olds are getting out there and risking their lives. I didn't see a single person there. That's the most embarrassing thing. I'm furious at Hollywood.

5/28/2007 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

I bow my head to those who fought to create and preserve my adoted homeland. I also want to put in a word for the troops of my native homeland, Canada, who are right now fighting and dying against the Taliban in Afghanistan. For those who don't know, only the Anglosphere (US, Canada, UK, Australia) is doing actual fighting in that country. The Euros are camped far from the front lines (their condition for coming at all) where they are implementing needle exchange programs or abortion clinics or some other abomination.

Last year I was on my way through San Diego. At the airport I chanced to meet a young marine. I bought him a beer and he told me of his experiences in Iraq, as well as his dreams of taking over the family farm when he got older. This man radiated goodness, decency, and well manliness from every pore.

From time to time I recall his polite, gentle strength. Usually when confronted with something as odious as a Cindy Sheehan or a Michael Moore. It is calming to realize there are more of him out there than there are of them. We just hear from them far more often. Too often.

5/28/2007 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

The pictures you and Robin posted are very moving and humbling.

5/28/2007 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Yes, I agree with sussanah. That picture in the post is very, very moving. I lingered over it for a good five minutes while reading today's post.

I like Robin's blog too! Did you take that picture of the water going down the pipe, Robin?

5/28/2007 04:10:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

This is from the Tennesseean, which ran the picture, the caption to which might have noted the boy's manly courage, not just his "grief." The information below is Important not only for allowing those who appreciate what the picture represents to give something, but because of the response of the mother of the child in not seizing a selfish advantage.

To donate to a memorial fund benefiting Christian Golczynski, go to any
Pinnacle bank branch office or send a check to: Pinnacle National Bank,
114 W. College St., Murfreesboro, TN 37130. Checks should be made out
to the Christian Golczynski Trust Fund.

Instead
of a donation to the Golczynski Trust Fund, Heather Golczynski has
asked those wanting to help to make a donation in Marc Golczynski's
name to the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund. If you would like
to contribute by mail, please make your checks payable to: Children of
Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund and mail your check to: CFSRF, P.O. Box
3968, Gaithersburg, MD 20885-3968
.

5/28/2007 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Biker Lady said...

Today is a fitting day to share this poem with you. It was written by a close friend of my husband's for his fellow comrades and my husband who died in Vietnam.

"Time to Rest"
To all my comrades, and a very close friend who made this journey:

A long ride begins over the Pacific so deep
A plane load of boxes within which I sleep
Our remains are returning to our next of kin.
I fought a war that I did not win
Our plans were not to return this way
A loud blast and a flash took my life away.

I don't know how the others here met their fates,
But mothers lost sons and wives lost mates
We are descending now, landing is near
The pilot has lowered the landing gear
Huge tires touch with a jolt and a scream
Thats' our precious soil, the land of dreams.

Well, so long, fellows, here is where we part
On our final leg to broken hearts
My ride begins next down long steel rails
Wheels hum and click as the whistle wails
My thoughts race now to the ones I love best
Please comfort them, Lord, when they lay me to rest.

Home is coming, home is here
The train has stopped, voices I hear
The old home town a familiar sight
Scattered signs, street lights glow in the night.

Services tomorrow will be very sad
For my dear old grief-stricken Mom and Dad
Then it's travel again, travel away
To a final spot in which I will stay
God, I'm finally here to join the rest
My head is east and my feet are west.

Old Glory removed, folded, triange-shaped,
Presented to my wife in a black cape
A cold breeze stirs the trees above
Leaving tears on the cheeks of the ones I love

The trees cast long shadows, now it's late in the day
The services were brief and now they pray
A volley of shots overhead I hear
Time for closing is very near
They open their eyes now and file away
Leaving me here and here I must stay.

On a grassy hill, what a lovely scene --
The Potomac below and trees so green
Yes, we have stacked arms, now it's time to rest
Until God appears to harvest his best.

by Bennie R. Johnson

Capt. Billy J. Smith is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

5/28/2007 04:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Biker Lady said...

A little Raccoon story to lighten our hearts today.
I don't think anyone here has mentioned this story, which appeared on Fox News - they love animal stories there. It was just a few days ago. The story was quick and I might not have gotten it all right.
Some beautiful little Raccoons, I think there was three of them, were stuck near some water/dock pilings and a group of men saw their plight and built something to allow them to escape. The story showed the men in their hard hats smiling and then the 3 beautiful Raccoons.
Now, how sweet is that - big tough, hard hat men taking time to rescue some Raccoons!

5/28/2007 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

At work today, I took the last two paragraphs of today's post-- only altering them slightly for clarity for the non-coon--an copied the picture, threw it all into Publisher and created a mini-poster to put up in my desk area.

It made my day. Thanks Bob, and Dilys, too. To read the story behind the picture was a blessing.

Peace and Purpose: what more could we wish for mankind? God bless our troops.

Thanks also, Biker Lady, for your stalwart devotion and your beloved's sacrifice.

5/28/2007 05:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way of Truth cannot be understood by children or fools. It is of no interest to the vulgar daily personality created by TV and the mob of TV peers. It requires the most profound intelligence, commitment, responsibility, and moral force of persistence in practice. It requires the most creative and easeful force of love. It requires great freedom from the destructive force of irrational reactivity, fear, and self-protectiveness.

You, as you know or experience yourself are not immortal, nor yet even fully human. What you tend to be, and think, and live is exactly what must be overcome, through insight, change of action, and the fullest working out of the disposition of sacrifice.

The entire Way of Truth is immensely difficult and creative, and it is the only matter of ultimate significance in the life of Man. Very few people demonstrate the kind of responsibility,real intelligence, and creative power necessary even to begin the practice of a truly religious and spiritual Way of Life.

5/28/2007 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

Wow, Deep....

ak.

5/28/2007 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I first heard "The Mansions of the Lord" sung as the recessional at Reagan's funeral and I have never forgotten it:

To fallen soldiers let us sing
where no rockets fly nor bullets wing
Our broken brothers let us bring
to the mansions of the Lord

No more bleeding no more fight
No prayers pleading through the night
just divine embrace, eternal light
in the mansions of the Lord

Where no mothers cry and no children weep
We will stand and guard tho the angels sleep
All through the ages safely keep the mansions of the Lord

You can hear it sung here

5/28/2007 06:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Sawdust said...

Yes, Bob, a wonderful post. As a Vietnam vet myself, I remember all too well how so many of the public felt about the war, which is one thing, and how they felt about us, something altogether different. It seems to me that the left believes that because they make the "distinction", for lack of a better word, they are not in any way wrong for criticizing the war. I believe that they protest all those good things said about this country by Dr. Sanity. They are saying that My Country is wrong, and evil, I just don't buy into that line of thinking. I believe that this war is much more than "blood for oil", and I believe that most of the left know this somewhere deep in their dark hearts. But I could be wrong.

I have always gone out of the way to thank anyone I see in uniform. About the time the Iraq war started, I was talking to a couple of new Army recruits in Pennsylvania. I made the remark that the world was getting to be a very nasty and danderous place for an American GI, and they said, "Yes, Sir. That's why I joined". I've been making the same remark and getting the same reply for several years now. These young men and women are well aware of the dangers that they must face, and they do it willingly, and it is an insult to their intelligence to say otherwise. If you don't support the war, that's OK. We're not asking you to fight it, just stfu and let them do the job. That's what they want to do.

5/28/2007 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Sawdust, you have my respect, and thank you for serving our country!

5/28/2007 07:00:00 PM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

Bob...this is a superb posting for Memorial Day...the most fitting online tribute I have seen so far among all my favorite sites (although Dr Sanity's was not bad, either). Indeed, is it not our duty and our own sacred honor, those of us who do not bear the uniform, to live lives ourselves that are worthy of their sacrifice? If we all allow ourselves to be sucked into Noam Chomsky cynicism, Jim Wallis "Christian" Marxism, Ward Churchill psychopathic intellect, or Paris Hilton cultural vacuuousness, we spit on the graves of those who fought for our freedom and our way of life. Indeed, the paradox of the whole thing is that the freedom that American enjoys, by virtue of being freedom, also makes possible the choosing of a dark and ignorant path, as it seems increasing numbers of Americans are doing, therefore endangering the very freedom which this nation enjoys. I think this comes about in large part when our freedoms cease to be freedoms in our minds and become entitlements instead; not something to be fought for and earned, but something we are owed and should demand. Therefore we fall for the leftist mindset of looking to the government for our well-being instead of to ourselves and, more importantly, to God.
Nomo, your comparison of the soldier to Christ, in terms of giving his life for others, is right on. I'm sure that would horrify Jim Wallis and Bob Edgar and all those "Christian" pacifist Marxists, but, hey, that's probably a good thing. As far as I'm concerned, every soldier that gives his life for his fellow Americans is a kind of Christ figure in my mind. This is a connection the pacifist will never see. All the can see is "turn the other cheek" and "he who lives by the sword dies by the sword", and all those other verses they take wildly out of their scriptural context. Christ never spoke against war, only against individual violence for revenge or gain. God actually ordered the Israelites under Joshua to kill every man, woman and child in the towns of Canaan, in order that they not be allowed to rise up as mortal enemies later. The Israelites failed to do that, and suffered defeats at the hands of some of those pagan tribes later on,as well as the infiltration of paganism into their own nation from outside. God knew what He was doing; He has never been, and never will be, a pacifist.
When I need to be inspired to look beyond all the artsy moral ambiguity and complete disconnect from reality that I see on TV and in most movies, I look to my favorite book and film saga of all times; Lord of the Rings. Tolkien, being a comtemporary of Lewis, understood like Lewis the true nature of evil and the absolute necessity of its total defeat and destruction to regain peace and balance, and the need for eternal vigilance against it, even as it seems to sleep. Yes, it's true, in the temporal sense, that the Jihadists have no Sauron or Emperor Palpatine as their one great leader, but when you look at it spiritually, they most definitely have a leader; the Prince of Darkness Himself (oh, no, I've just called Islamic Jihadists Satanic; here come the CAIR Thought Police to arrest me). The same Supreme Leader the Communists had (and in N. Korea, Cuba and Venezuela, still do). One thing you never saw Gandalf, Aragorn or Theoden doing was negotiating with the enemy in the naiive belief that they think like us, and therefore want the same things we do (freedom and liberty). And, like Churchill, they were willing to fight to the last, even in the face of impossible odds. I wonder if we as a nation have the balls any more to defend ourselves with that kind of fierceness and devotion. Or perhaps have we become a nation of Neville Chamberlains? Oh, wait, that analogy will probably be lost...none of our college students know who he was....

Anyway, Salutations to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan...keep up the good fight...and it is a good fight.

5/28/2007 07:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Aquila said...

Happy Memorial Day wishes from some Washington State moonbats

5/28/2007 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger MizzE said...

I noted earlier at Julie's Memorial that it seems to me that all of the memorials that have been inscribed electronically during this Memorial weekend have seemed to be like a kite festival. Each entry like a prayer written on a kite, flown tethered for a while and then released to the Cosmos.

Before this day comes to an end, I offer my own little kite, from a mother who blessed her only child to join the Marines, and who came back to her after a year of serving in Desert Storm, a remembrance, from a war poem by Trevor Morgan, for each mother whose son did not come home:

I have heard it said
That when someone is not forgot
Then they cannot be dead.

For each live in the ones they love
Their loved ones live in them
Whether on earth or up above
Love is God's diadem.

5/28/2007 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Beautiful piece by Van der Leun today.

5/28/2007 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Not as poetic, but full of manly honor.

5/28/2007 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger Darryl said...

There is so much you have said well, here, that I shall only say that I appreciate it. Your words make me remember many times those feelngs passing through me about heroes and much else you cited. They pass through me and then in the hustle and bustle of life they are forgotten. Hmm, maybe they shouldn't be. I am collecting links on my website www.thefaithwalkerseries.com links from quality people who are importantly thought provoking. Gagdad, I have added your link to my site along with other quality people. I have been asking myself a question. We see how the left well organizes and puts up a strong fighting front. How well do those who fight for strong integrity and good meaning, how well they they join together and fight back? Do we generate the same level of passion for what we love as the left does? So, in the back of my mind I am beginning to collect links of all quality people. Perhaps it might help bring them all together to do....something. One day.

5/28/2007 10:03:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Wee hours here, and this train of thought came by, so I hitched a ride on it, then got thrown off for not having a ticket . . . this is a minor riffing on what Bob and others here in OC space have already said . . .

Memorial Day is certainly for honoring the fallen heroes of our military, and John Edward's attempt to bastardize it for political ends is cheap to the point of "deconstruction" profanity. Like most leftist stunts, it focuses on something that is, in the highest spiritual sense, truly ceremonial and attempts to tear away its divine resonance.

So I was thinking, in what way is Memorial Day larger than it is - as all spiritual ceremonies truly are? Well, as has been pointed out here, it's obvious that Memorial Day is a day for celebrating, honoring, remembering what heroism really means - courageous self-sacrifice in the name higher ideals, principles, which are, to be sure, *spiritual* ideals and principles. So in one sense, our fallen military heroes are symbolic of this ideal. They are the most vivid, the most tangible representation of this ideal that we have before us. There are others, of course, who likewise are vivid, in-the-flesh symbols of this spiritual ideal: police, firefighters, the occasional citizen who rises to the heroic occasion and is so publicly honored. There is no hero, however, quite as vivid, quite so symbolic of self-sacrificing virtue than the military hero.

The great wonder of it, of course, is that our fallen heroes are not paintings, statues, images - they were and are human. They are us. And still they are symbols, ideals in the flesh - destiny selected them to serve this role. That role is to remind us that we all are potential self-sacrificing heroes, that we all are of divine essence. Somehow, on some level, we must realize this, otherwise we wouldn't have a day for honoring our fallen heroes.

The other day Bob alluded to the some of the symbolic threads in the Wizard of Oz. Overview-wise, I have long seen WoO as a tale of a journey into the Realm of Divine Archetypes wherein we (through Dorothy) see ourselves, and others, in our real, divine essence. In her eyes, her Kansas friends and acquaintances became Scarecrow, Lion, Tin Man - became, in effect, their true selves, all on a heroic quest to reclaim their spiritual birthright. In Kansas, they were just dusty average Joes. In the Higher Realm, they were their real selves, knights, heroes.

Most of us are Kansans. We do not have a symbolic public role to play. And yet there are countless souls who commit unseen (by the public) acts of tremendous self-sacrifice and heroism, whose deeds will never be acknowledged - in some cases, not by a single other - in this world. Our military heroes remind us that such heroism is possible. The secular attempt to "deconstruct" military heroism is no less than an attempt to sever us from our Oz, our spiritual reality. We need daily remind ourselves that we are on the yellow brick road of our personal heroic quest. And we need to remind ourselves that, though our personal acts of heroism may never be acclaimed in this life, we will, in the fullness of time, be acknowledged as the heroes we imagine ourselves to be.

5/29/2007 02:34:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Very hard for me to come up with words for the day - there are indeed many in my family who served (on both sides.)

I recall this old Corey Hart song:

Just a little more time is all we're asking for
Cause just a little more time could open closing doors
Just a little uncertainty can bring you down
And nobody wants to know you now
And nobody wants to show you how
So if you're lost and on your own
You can never surrender
And if your path won't lead you home
You can never surrender
And when the night is cold and dark
You can see, you can see light
Cause no-one can take away your right
To fight and never surrender

With a little perserverence you can get things down
Without the blind adherence that has conquered some
And nobody wants to know you now
And nobody wants to show you how
So if you're lost and on your own
You can never surrender
And if your path won't lead you home
You can never surrender
And when the night is cold and dark
You can see, you can see light
Cause no-one can take away your right
To fight and never surrender, to never surrender


And I thought of the story Heinlein told:

Many of the sf writers today seem to have acquired a permanent nervous breakdown during and after World War II. Some of the things that science fiction long predicted have come to pass--and now they're scared silly.

I don't understand it.

Look, friends, the only possible way to enjoy life is not to be afraid to die. A zest for living requires a willingness to die; you cannot have the first without the second. The 60's and 70's and 80's and 90's can be loaded with the zest for living, high excitement, and gutsy adventure for any truly human person.

"Truly human"? I mean you descendants of cavemen who outlasted the saber-tooth, you who sprang from the loins of the Vikings, you whose ancestors fought the Crusades and were numbered the Golden Horde. Death is the lot of all of us and the only way the human race has ever conquered death is by treating it with contempt. By living every golden minute as if one had all eternity--

About fifty years ago when I was a small child a thing happened in my home town which made a permanent impression on me. My family lived in Kansas City then; there is a large park in the south of town, Swope Park. Almost every Sunday in good weather we would ride the street car out there and enjoy the park. Through the park runs--or did run, then--a railroad track, the Katy line. There were a half a dozen places where one could cross the track on foot.

A man and his wife were walking in Swope Park one Sunday, started across those tracks, and she stepped on a switching juncture, got her foot caught in it--stuck tight.

Nothing to panic about, there were no trains in sight and that line carried only a couple of trains a day.

But she found that she could not pull it out even with her husband's help--and there was no one else around.

They both worked away at it for several minutes when a stranger came along, a man, and now all three of them strained and pulled.

No luck--and now they heard a train coming.

Too late to flag it down--too late to do anything--save continue trying to get her foot out of there.

Of course both the husband--and the stranger who had happened along--could have saved themselves easily.

But they didn't. Neither gave up, both men kept trying and were still trying as the train hit them.

The wife and the stranger were killed at once; the husband lasted just long enough to tell what happened and died before he could be moved.

The woman had no choice. The husband had a choice but acted as a husband should.

But what of the stranger?

No one would have blamed him if he had jumped clear at the last moment at which he could have saved himself. After all, in sober fact, the woman could not be saved--it was too late. She was not his wife, not his responsibility--she was a total stranger; we don't know that he ever learned her name.

But he didn't jump back. He was leaning over, pulling at this stranger's leg with all his strength when the locomotive hit him. He used the last golden moments of his life, the last efforts his muscles would ever make, still trying to save her.

I don't know anything about him. I didn't see it happen and when the crowd gathered--amazing how fast a crowd can gather even in a lonely spot once an accident happens. My parents got me quickly away from there to keep me from seeing the mangled bodies. So all I really know about it is what I can recall from hearing my father read aloud the account in the Kansas City Star.

I don't even know the stranger's name. The newspaper described him as about twenty-eight, I think it was, and a "laborer." Probably means "hobo" as he was walking along the tracks. It is possible that this married couple who died with him would never, under other circumstances, have met him formally, might not have been willing to sit down and eat with him.

I don�t know. I'll never know anything about him--except how he chose to spend the last five minutes of his short life . . . and how he elected to die.

But that is really quite a lot and I've thought about it many times since. Why did he do what he did? What did he think about in those last few rushing minutes when the train bore down on them? Or did he think about anything save the great effort he was making? Was he afraid? If he was, what inner resources did he draw on to offset that fear with ultimate courage?

We can�t know. All we know is that, with no flags flying, no bands playing, no time to prepare his soul for the ordeal--he did it.

And the only conclusion I have ever been able to reach is this: This is how a man lives. And this is how a man dies.

His caveman ancestors have good reason to feel proud of him--and this is why the caveman�s children are reaching out to the stars--and will reach the stars.

Would it have made a difference if some other man--or woman--had happened along in place of this nameless stranger? Did inexorable fate bring this hero to his appointed triumph? Or was it coincidence so wild that an author would be ashamed to use it that a man with the necessary courage happened to be walking along that railroad track?

I don�t think any of these things are true. I suggest that it really didn�t matter much in the outcome which human being happened along. I have great respect for the race of which I now have the honor to be a member--that any stranger with the same gutsy abandon would have done the same thing. You here in this room. Anybody--

This is not a tale about how a man happened to die in Swope Park on a Sunday afternoon back when Taft was president. This is a story for any year about how a man . . . lives.


(Pulled from a commenter at E3.)

My thought was, save revelation, what our soldiers do is the highest thing a man can do - never surrender - like Job. So religious or not their honor is something that is in itself beautiful. ... Which may be why women are so attracted to men in uniform ...

To make an overlong post already longer, here is the lyrics to this song I've been listening to (Take them in the coon-fashion):

Remember me
In a Bible cracked and faded by the years
Remember me
In a santuary filled with silent prayers

And age to age
And heart to heart
Bound by grace and peace
Child of wonder, Child of God
I'll remember you
Remember Me

Remember me
When the color of the sunset fills the sky
Remember me
When you pray and the tears of joy
fall from your eyes

And age to age
And heart to heart
Bound by grace and peace
Child of wonder, Child of God
I'll remember you
Remember Me

Remember me
When the children leave
their Sunday school with smiles
Remember me
When they're old enough to teach
Old enough to preach
Old enough to leave

And age to age
And heart to heart
Bound by grace and peace
Child of wonder, Child of God
I'll remember you
Remember Me


Memorial, indeed.

5/29/2007 04:18:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Er, by both sides I meant of my family. Uh, I guess it wouldn't make sense otherwise...

5/29/2007 04:19:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

PS - early mornin' for me, here.

I discovered that Leftism takes true religion, which is in one sense doing what everyone ought to do, anyone can do, but few do, and turning it into what everyone will do only.

Instead of sacrifice? Mandatory donation to People for the American Way.

Instead of faith? Blind adherence.

Instead of hope? Ignorance.

Instead of love? Sentiment.

Instead of gifts? Entitlements.

Instead of help? Programs.

Instead of friendship? 'Social Work'.

Instead of marriage? Cohabitation.

Instead of thanksgiving? Envy.

And so on. For every thing that the truth has which makes a man a man it is replaced with something that makes a man an animal.

5/29/2007 04:33:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Oh what a frustrating weekend to be stuck in spectator mode! Even in catching up with the posts and comments in snatches throughout the day & night, a full frontal lobe swirling selection - posts & comments... interesting sensation of making my comments to myself, that spiral of non-boredom is always there... always open, and always thrumming with new connections and integrations....

Much I'd like to say on the difference between fighting for a country vs fighting for a nation of ideals, but time won't relent... in lieu, I think these two, from Gagdad & USS Ben sum it up well:

"But the point of today's holiday is to honor those heroes who are heroic because they embodied and fought for the transcendent ideal of spiritual liberty -- not for the United States per se, but only insofar as the United States is the embodiment and realization of a spiritual ideal. Their lives and deaths have only been in vain to the extent that we squander our own God-given liberty and abandon the spiritual principles upon which this country was founded."

Ben Said "Today is a day set aside to Honor and remember those Heroes who gave their all.
To celebrate their lives, and the Ideal they fought for.
The Noble Ideal of Reality our Founders fought for.
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, and so much more..."

And the picture... the heart shatters... and soars....

5/29/2007 05:50:00 AM  
Anonymous GLASR said...

esiban! :~| !

5/29/2007 06:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need to be perfectly honest here.

"Gagdad Bob" should be thankful for "Siggy", because otherwise he might just be the biggest douche on the Internet.

This dork wants to lecture us about how liberals are allied with terrorists, then preach to us about God and try to sell us a book about it? LOL

At least he occasionally makes a point, though, and even though they're absurd, that's still more than you can say for "Siggy".

5/29/2007 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

I need to be perfectly honest here.

Well, everyone needs to go to the bathroom sometime.

5/29/2007 07:54:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

I gotta be honest here.

Every moonbat on the planet should be thankful for anonymous.

5/29/2007 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

I need to be perfectly honest here.

Oh! A guessing game! How many times prior have you been dishonest? And can we decide when you are or aren't? Because obviously you've given us more doubts than assurances by beginning a sentence in that way. So, how else would we know where your honesty lies, or your "need" to be so?

We may as well draw our own conclusions: you are honestly an ass.

(wv: opogo) O, piss off and go!
Word veri knows. It's becoming sentient.

5/29/2007 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

I hadn't refreshed this morning, just now caught up with the comments starting with Biker Lady, Riv & Will & all.... I've had to come up with a new workplace danger acronym to go with ISS(Involuntary Spastic Spewage - the inherent danger of drinking or eating while perusing OC and coming, unprepared, upon a guffaw), and it is much more solemn and profound - IST - Involuntarily Shedding Tears.

As Lincoln said at Gettysberg, thanking and honoring the troops, "...it is altogether fitting and propper that we do so. But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Same applies for us here today. As Gagdad said "Their lives and deaths have only been in vain to the extent that we squander our own God-given liberty and abandon the spiritual principles upon which this country was founded.", to live and embody the ideals that they fought for, to pass them on, that is what we can do, and must do. And as the song quoted above said "And age to age
And heart to heart
Bound by grace and peace
Child of wonder, Child of God
I'll remember you
Remember Me", they in a very real sense, will be here, will live on in us and through us.

For the TV-itis Annonymous, forget what the MSM tells us of 'today's kids', remember what Sawdust said instead "I made the remark that the world was getting to be a very nasty and danderous place for an American GI, and they said, "Yes, Sir. That's why I joined"."

For every throw-away-Paris-Hilton type out there in the media eye, there are a thousand more like Sawdust mentioned, far from the media eye, and far closer to our hearts.

5/29/2007 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

And for the Siggy-aninnymouse, you are but dust to be wiped from the Flag of this nation. A little annoyance, little noted, soon forgotten, of no consequence or worth.

Fits well with your philosophy.

wv:ldzownkx uh-huh.

5/29/2007 09:57:00 AM  

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