And by a prudent flight and cunning save A life which valour could not, from the grave. A better buckler I can soon regain, But who can get another life again? Archilochus

Monday, May 30, 2011

To Those Who Serve, Thank You for Your Service!

This post is dedicated to the memory of Henry Lewis Wicks of 5th Marine Division's 27th Regiment, who died on February 19th, 1945 on the sands of Iwo Jima, and all who were with him on that fateful day.

The invasion of Iwo Jima began on 19 February, 1945. The 27th Marines stormed ashore at 0900 in its designated area of Beaches Red 1 and Red 2. The Regiment was initially assigned the mission of helping to cut off and isolate Mount Suribachi from the rest of the island. As the Marines pushed inland, resistance by the Japanese became more and more determined. Once Mount Suribachi was isolated, the Regiment was ordered to move north to join with the other units in continuing the attack on the main enemy defenses. Rugged terrain, heavy enemy fire, and well placed land mines all combined at times to hold the attacking Marines to a standstill. They repeatedly met the Japanese in hard, close combat.

On 16 March, Iwo Jima was declared secure, although some resistance continued for about two months. The severity of the fighting left 566 killed and 1703 wounded in the 27th Marines alone. Four Marines from the Regiment earned the Medal of Honor (the nation's highest award for valor).

As for the Division,

The division landed on Iwo Jima on February 19. They landed on the left northeast of Mount Suribachi and sustained heavy initial losses so much so that by that afternoon the 26th Marines had to be released as the division reserve. The 5th Marine Division would fight on Iwo Jima from February 19 until March 18 where they would sustain 1,098 killed in action and 2,974 wounded in action. This was the highest casualty rate amongst the Marine divisions involved in the invasion.
The Spearhead
5th Marine Division - Red Beach 1, Feb 19, 1945
"Then rushed to meet the insulting foe; They took the spear, but left the shield." - Philip Morin Freneau

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bring in the New Napoleons

The guns of Vendémiare: 5 October 1795

Napoleon's part in the saving of the Convention, and of its plans for the new regime of five directors, is a simple one. On being appointed one of the commanders to defend the seat of government in the Tuileries (with a force which looks like being outnumbered six to one by the rebels), he asks one simple question: 'Where is the artillery?' He has appreciated that in the straight streets around the Tuileries the issue may be decided by a few cannon rather than thousands of muskets.

Forty guns are known to be in a camp six miles away. Joachim Murat (a brilliant cavalry officer, and later Napoleon's brother-in-law) is despatched to fetch them.

A rebel force is already on its way to seize these valuable weapons but Murat, galloping at the head of a squadron of 200 troopers, reaches the camp first. His men drag the cannon to Paris.

Fortunately for the members of the Convention, waiting nervously in the Tuileries, the rebels decide on a direct frontal attack rather than anything more subtle. During the afternoon of 13 Vendémiaire (October 5) columns of armed men, marching to drums, arrive in the Rue St Honoré and turn into the streets leading to the Tuileries. They are exchanging musket fire with the Convention's troops when the first volleys of grapeshot from Napoleon's cannon tear into their ranks.

The encounter is repeated two or three times during the afternoon, but eventually the rebels scatter. The day belongs unequivocally to the Convention, enabling plans for the new Directory to continue on schedule.

Much credit, very possibly exaggerated, is given to the 26-year-old Napoleon for this narrow escape from disaster. In the early months of the Directory he is rapidly promoted until, in March 1796, he becomes commander-in-chief of the French army in Italy. His success in this role brings him such a reputation in France that by 1799 he is himself in a position to replace the Directory.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Signal to Noise Level - Undetectable

A view of the "Tower of Babel", an artistic creation of Argentinian artist Marta Minujin with thousands of books in languages from around the world and constructed in San Martin Plaze in Buenos Aires on the 7th of May, 2011. UNESCO has named Buenos Aires the World Capital of the Book for 2011.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Problem with "Progressive" Liberalism

... but much of what you think you know just isn't "true".
STRANGER: Human beings have come out in the same class with the freest and airiest of creation, and have been running a race with them.

YOUNG SOCRATES: I remark that very singular coincidence.

STRANGER: And would you not expect the slowest to arrive last?

YOUNG SOCRATES: Indeed I should.

STRANGER: And there is a still more ridiculous consequence, that the king is found running about with the herd and in close competition with the bird-catcher, who of all mankind is most of an adept at the airy life. (Plato is here introducing a new subdivision, i.e. that of bipeds into men and birds. Others however refer the passage to the division into quadrupeds and bipeds, making pigs compete with human beings and the pig-driver with the king. According to this explanation we must translate the words above, 'freest and airiest of creation,' 'worthiest and laziest of creation.')

- Plato, "Statesman"

Sunday, May 1, 2011

One Fine May Morn on the Banks of the Schuylkill

"Song for St. Tamminy s Day." - The Old Song.

Of Andrew, of Patrick, of David, & George,
What mighty achievements we hear!
While no one relates great Tammany's feats,
Although more heroic by far, my brave boys,
Although more heroic by far.

These heroes fought only as fancy inspired,
As by their own stories we find;
Whilst Tammany, he fought only to free,
From cruel oppression mankind, my brave boys,
From cruel oppression mankind.

"When our country was young and our numbers were few
To our fathers his friendship was shown,
(For he e'er would oppose whom he took for his foes),
And made our misfortunes his own, my brave boys,
And he made our misfortunes his own.
"At length growing old and quite worn out with years,
As history doth truly proclaim,
His wigwam was fired, he nobly expired,
And flew to the skies in a flame, my brave boys,
And flew to the skies in a flame.

More on the history of the 1st of May