Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How do we treat our soldiers?

Things have been quiet in the Tavern this past week. Reverence was the mood. Our American friends had their Memorial Day, which caused many other nationalities to reflect as well.

We treat our soldiers badly when they are alive and reserve our public expressions of support only for the dead. The week was marked, not only by the national outpouring of sorrow for lost soldiers but by the farce of America's Veteran's Hospitals.

We had a number of conversations and I will bring here just hints of some.

About six miles from Maastricht, in the Netherlands, lie buried 8,301 American soldiers who died in “Operation Market Garden” in the battles to liberate Holland in the fall-winter of 1944-45. Every one of the men buried in the cemetery, as well as those in the Canadian and British military cemeteries, has been adopted by a Dutch family who mind the grave, decorate it, and keep alive the memory of the soldier they have adopted. It is even the custom to keep a portrait of “their” American soldier in a place of honor in their home.  
Annually, on “Liberation Day,” memorial services are held for “the men who died to liberate Holland.” The day concludes with a concert. The final piece is always “Il Silenzio,” a memorial piece commissioned by the Dutch and first played in 1965 on the 20th anniversary of Holland’s liberation. It has been the concluding piece of the memorial concert ever since. 
In 2008 the soloist was a 13-year-old Dutch girl, Melissa Venema, backed by AndrĂ© Rieu and his orchestra (the Royal Orchestra of the Netherlands). This beautiful concert piece is based upon the original version of taps and was written by Italian composer Nino Rossi. 
Andre Rieu - Il Silenzio (Maastricht 2008) DIGITAL TV 

Cherie dropped by from her travels as well to tell of a visit she made.

I visited the National Memorial Arboretum today and the Eagle in the attached photo was quite stunning against the skyline inviting closer inspection.  When I got up close I found that it was the centrepiece of Royal Air force Association Memorial Garden.   

It is a wonderful piece of artwork, a fitting memorial for those who served in The Royal Air Force.  The crosses beneath have been placed there by friends, family and colleagues of those who served.  Unfortunately the drizzly weather dulls the shine of the eagle against the sky…  I thought you might enjoy it anyway 

Another of the memorials I visited was the one I mentioned to you recently; ‘Shot at Dawn’.  I have posted about it giving more detail of what the memorial represents.

When I set off to visit The National Memorial Arboretum this morning I didn’t realise that it was Memorial Day in the United States.  It was only later when I got back home and read Ginnie’s post at Vision & Verb that I realised I had picked a perfect day to visit the Arboretum.  The Arboretum is a centre of remembrance to honor the fallen and recognise their service and sacrifice for their country. 
The site covers over 150 acres and there are currently around 300 memorials. Far too much to see in one day.  I picked one of the self guided First World War Centenary trails that had been launched earlier this year:
History enthusiasts will enjoy the more detailed Shot at Dawn Trail (2km), created to provide a deeper understanding of many of the trees and memorials connected to WW1 by fascinating stories and symbolism.*

The ‘Shot at Dawn’ memorial is very moving and requires a few minutes silent contemplation.  The memorial is situated on the eastern edge of the arboretum where dawn strikes first. 
I was sitting on a bench when I took this this photograph. Right behind the bench were six trees placed where the firing squad would have been. 

The six trees facing the posts represent the firing squad, all aiming for the medallion around the statues neck and none of them knowing who had the fatal bullet. It must have been very traumatic for them too, having to shoot one of their own.
Yes, many quite young men were shot by firing squad during WW!. Boys as young as 16, shell-shocked, scared, not frightened to death but punished to death for their human response to the terror and brutality of war. 

We have a habit of being brutal to our soldiers.

Things are not improving, as can be seen from previous conversations here in the Tavern. The American Forces tried to silence Catholics and ban the Mass being celebrated. Now the Australians are following suit.

One can get a good idea of when defeat is upon us. When the values that our civilisation was built upon are no longer given due regard. Indeed, replaced.

Catholics Expelled from The Army

The Australian Military leadership prefers homosexuals to Catholics.

God help us.

One has to ask just at what point does one conclude that the country is not worth defending and giving one's life to protect.



  1. Governments (and government departments) treat service men in an appalling way. The lack of regard makes me angry.

    My photo 'Shot at Dawn' appeared on my Facebook page and a friend commented that the memorial was necessary because the MoD did not want to acknowledge what had happened (a summary not a direct quote).

    The lack of regard (of governments etc) is due to their focusing on agendas and goals. The people who achieve those goals for them are expendable... *sighs*

    Melissa and the orchestral music brought tears to my eyes as music of this type often does.

    I know that the Padre (in the UK) plays a strong supportive roll for those who serve out in theatre. They are there to support to all faiths and also to support those who have no faith. Padres are also stationed at the home unit to provide the same service for the families (and communities) left at home.

    It will be a sad day if they are banned!!

  2. The poor treatment of soldiers was ever thus, Cherie, but your fine addition to the talk in the bar gives of your generous heart. The young girl played her trumpet beautifully but I do hope that the gentleman Orchestra leader does not live to regret his wink.

  3. How a society treats its forces personnel is a measure of the health of that society.

  4. How a society treats its forces personnel is a measure of the health of that society.

    That is a difficult one James... Most people I meet (in my daily life) regard the armed forces with the greatest respect and reverence and appreciate the sacrifices they have made for others.

    Thoughts of the people who make up society! And on the basis of your comment that means that society is healthy.

    We know that is not the case, so that brings me back to my previous comment about 'governments'...

  5. "Governments" are run by people who think of themselves as the ones who must make the hard decisions: And so they begin to look on the people as inferior and to be used to promote whatever agenda THEY deem to be necessary. They play God, and they are terrible at it.

    Here in the States, we are tired of politicians putting us into wars to NOT win. Afghanistan has now destroyed TWO major superpowers: Russian and the US.

    Great piece amfortas, and the dear trumpet player made the world proud. Bless her heart.

    As for the Australian military? good lord.

    1. I have to agree with the fact of the first bit. The people in Government are indeed the ones who have to make the hard decisions. Theoretically, that is what we appointed them to do. Mostly - well, quite often - they make a pig's ear of the job. But then, what do we expect? They are just ordinary people like ourselves but most of us are not inclined to take the job ourselves. Would you want your next-door neighbour in charge? (If the answer is 'NO' then ask yourself why you haven't moved !) :)

      As for 'looking down' on us, yes, that is an inescapable impression. It is damned annoying too, especially for folks like the Tavern Keeper who has a brain the size of a modest sized Planet. I could run the Government from 10.00am Wednesday to Friday lunchtime.

      There is no excuse waging a war without the intent to defeat the enemy. Comprehensively. Just why the Hell we were ever in Afghanistan will engage minds for a long time.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..