Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Silent Night, Watchful Night

Thanks for the Memory to Subsunk posting at Blackfive.

One of my favorite quotes is this one, often attributed in different variations to Orwell:

"We sleep peacefully in our beds simply because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

We would do well to remember that truth during this season when we celebrate Peace on Earth. There are those who will never show Good Will Towards Men, and as long as there are, the only way we will have any Peace is thanks to the efforts of those who go in harms way so that we need not. It is with that in mind I share this poem, found at Blackfive's:


The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
a lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light.
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam,'
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?"
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Merry Christmas to all, and especially to those manning the thin red line between us and all we fear.

When the Karma Runs Out of Gas

Thanks for the Memory to Lars Larson.

An excellent essay on why Tookie Williams should die. And from an Oregonian, no less.

Air Marshal Shoots Passenger on Flight from Columbia to the US


December 7, 1941.

It's more than a defining event, it's a defining date. It's one of those few events in history that most people recognize just from the date itself. December 7th. July 4th. Now, September 11th.

This particular date marked the US entry into World War II, an entry than most historians agree was inevitable. It roused the US from an isolationistic fantasy that ignored the ever-shrinking nature of the world, and it brought us into direct conflict with an enemy with whom we had been inexorably shifting into conflict. This was an enemy whose culture was completely different from ours, who viewed its way of life as inherently superior to ours, and who had no mercy for those who opposed it. Its goal was total domination of all lands it viewed as its by Divine Right. It believed that the only options were victory or death, and neither asking for nor offering quarter. In the end, only its complete devastation and utter defeat eventually brought about an end to the conflict.

No, I'm not comparing Hitler to Hussein -- that is another discussion for another day. I'm talking about the uncanny similarities between the Bushido-driven Empire of the Rising Sun and modern Wahabist Islam. The parallels to the modern day are startling, from the use of beheading as a means of execution to the glorification of suicide attackers as holy martyrs. The most uncanny parallel, of course, is between the devastating acts of treachery that brought each conflict home to America. I hope that the similarities need not extend to the means required to end the conflicts.

My Least Favorite Weather

38 Degrees and rainy. Don't get me wrong, I love rain. But if it's going to be colder than 40, the least it can do is have the decency to drop a couple degrees and snow.

Maybe I Should Just Say It Was a Bar Fight...

...'cause that would sound more macho than, "Oh, this fat lip? My 10-month old head butted me last night. You should have seen the blood. No, not his, mine."