11 June 2007

Can you feel the love

So through out a number of cities in the US they have what is called "Fleet Week" which is usually used to celebrate the US Navy and US Marine Corps. Most of the time it goes off like Fleet Week in New York City, a time when the Sailors and Marines of the US Department of the Navy are celebrated.

Yes, I will admit too that Fleet Week is most cities are a recruiting tool as well, but it is an awesome thing to be in town and get up close to people that only see the military on TV news shows or via some other media. Even better is to walk up to some child and get asked questions like, "Are you a real Sailor?". Shy girls that are still in high school come up steal your white hat to get a picture of themselves in it or want to model the closing scene of "An Officer and a Gentleman.". One also get a chance to meet old grizzled vets who where in places that aren't known about anymore. It is a good time. I have only personally done it once when we pulled in to Miami. It was fun.

Though some cities have felt pressures from some of the extreme groups in the US that feel all we need to do is hug the world and apologize. So as a way to protest they push to ban Fleet Week when that backfires they tone down the rhetoric to ban military performance teams such as the Blue Angels, Leapfrogs, or Thunderbirds. So they do like three peace groups in San Francisco does petition the City Council to end the fly over as a step to end Fleet Week in the city.

I see this and it upsets me from time to time. Mainly because people associate us in the military with what is wrong in the world and abuse us because either they don't agree with politicos in the White House or they don't agree with US foreign policy.
I have thought about it for a while and talked with friends of mine over either a pint of beer or cup of coffee, while have a civilized debate about this. One of my friends sent on a copy of Rudyard Kipling's Poem titled "Tommy". It is Kipling's attack on the British Empire's civilians forgetting that it was on the backs of its soldiers and sailors that made it the empire for which the sun didn't set on for the better part of 2 centuries. Basically the populace shows hate, yelled at, jokes made of, and in general discontent of having soldiers walking around in uniform of the character that is until the solider is needed to defend them. Then it is the solider who basically says that they are a proud bunch and they see the population's reaction when they are not needed.
This is very much not unlike what I have seen from a number of friends about the police. They are hated and yelled at, that is until someone is in trouble.
So with out further ado here is the poem "Tommy":
by Rudyard Kipling:
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.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

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.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

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!
Think about this the next time you see people putting down the military or an individual solider. That most of us see this and at times it makes us angry, but we don't always express it out right. Why? Because at times it is like talking to a brick wall, or it just isn't worth it because some people have their minds set in concrete and are completely unwilling to change their minds. That is their lost.

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