Since today was Veteran’s Day (in the United States), I read back over some of my favorite poems about military service.  One particular favorite is Rudyard Kipling’s “Tommy,” published in a volume of his poems in 1892.  The theme of the poem is the disrespect that troops sometimes get from those that don’t appreciate the sacrifice.  Although the protagonist is a British soldier, the situations in the poem are probably common to all who have served, regardless of nationality.  Thankfully, this is probably not a common experience for our currently serving troops as they have received amazing support from the American public.  Moreover, unlike the Vietnam era, military service these days is highly valued and honored.    

If you want to read the entire poem, you can by clicking on this hyperlink.  I excerpted enough below so that you can get the gist of the poem. 

"I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
    O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
    But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play."

"Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit."

"You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
    For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
    But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
    An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
    An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!"

There are so many sacrifices that go into military service, but most things in life that have great value require sacrifice.  Our American freedoms and values are certainly worth the sacrifice.  I have served myself (23 years on active duty and a combat tour), but I am grateful to all those that served before me, served with me, or currently serve.  Freedom certainly is not free.  It has come at great cost with over 1.3 million deaths attributed to the totality of American wars from the Revolution up to the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  When counting the cost to lives, though, we cannot forget the war wounded, totaling over 1.5 million.  So, although freedom has come at a high cost, it will be secure as long as there are courageous men and women who are willing to stand in the gap and pay the cost even if it requires that “last full measure of devotion” (Abraham Lincoln, “Gettysburg Address”).

May God bless America!

 


Comments

they would be never forgot! Brave soldiers that fought for our freedom.

Reply

There are some days which make our life batter and we can't forget it in our whole life. It sounds good to read your veterans day experience. Due to cross cultures and countries, it is very difficult for me to know such days in the best way as you can describe.

Reply



Leave a Reply

    Author

    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

    Archives

    November 2013
    October 2013
    September 2013
    August 2013
    July 2013
    June 2013
    May 2013
    April 2013
    March 2013
    February 2013
    January 2013
    December 2012
    November 2012
    October 2012
    May 2012
    April 2012

    Categories

    All