Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Soldiers

"Cry God for Harry and St George!"
The Battle of Agincourt
The Battle of Agincourt (La Bataille d'Azincourt, en français) has always held a certain fascination for me. But what spurred this particular post was a comment from Tam of View From The Porch fame (and if you're not following her, I ask, "Why not?" - she's very good) on my recent post Prince Harry.

Tam's comment was (and I quote) 
"Let the lad win his spurs." -Edward III at Crecy.

To explain that, I need to throw some Wiki-magic at you. At the Battle of Crécy in 1346,
The French attack fought bravely but could not break the English formation, even after several attempts, and they suffered many casualties. Edward III's son, the Black Prince, came under attack, but his father refused to send help, saying that he wanted him to "win his spurs". The prince subsequently proved himself to be an outstanding soldier.
(Uh, gee, thanks Dad, would've been my reaction. But I'm not English royalty.)

The way MY mind works is as follows: "Ahhh, 
Crécy - hhhmmm, Agincourt!" One battle triggers thoughts of another, Agincourt primarily because of Henry the Fifth's Saint Crispin's Day / Band of Brothers speech. That having been triggered by reading a post over at Bring the Heat, Bring the Stupid dealing with the two HBO mini-series, Band of Brothers and The Pacific. (The inner workings of my brain have fascinated and annoyed my wife for most of our 35 years of wedded bliss. At any rate, that's how I see it and it IS my blog. YMMV.)

I had also recently seen the quote "warriors for the working day" somewhere. (I perhaps read far too much, and way too fast. Many things stick but damme if I can remember where they came from.) This also caused some dust to stir in the cranial memory banks. For "back in the day" I did, from time to time, read the plays of the Immortal Bard. (Ya know, Shakespeare.) A wee bit of research yielded the fact that Henry the Fifth had uttered that phrase as well. In the same act! So I did some more digging research and came up with the following.

It's 
The Life of King Henry the Fifth, Act 4, Scene 3. Early in the scene, King Henry gives us:
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
The "band of brothers" speech, if you will. And then farther on, after Montjoy has delivered his message from the Constable of France:
Let me speak proudly: tell the constable
We are but warriors for the working-day;
Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirch'd
With rainy marching in the painful field;
There's not a piece of feather in our host--
Good argument, I hope, we will not fly--
And time hath worn us into slovenry:
But, by the mass, our hearts are in the trim;
And my poor soldiers tell me, yet ere night
They'll be in fresher robes, or they will pluck
The gay new coats o'er the French soldiers' heads
And turn them out of service.
And there you have "warriors for the working day".

Where am I going with all this? Well, it's simple really. Though the Bard wrote the play circa 1599, and was writing about an event which occurred in 1415, his description of soldiers is as accurate today as it was then.

Nothing fancy. They may have gone to war for many reasons but once battle was joined, they fought for each other. The few, the happy few, the band of brothers (and sisters!)

We're not talking about mythic heroes of yore either. No Norse nor Greek figures need apply. Here there be no Thor, no Achilles. No, just common men (and now women) doing their jobs. Adhering to their training and "gettin' 'er done", so to speak. Warriors for the working day.


If you wish, Wikipedia has good treatments of both battles I mentioned above. Here are the links:

Battle of Agincourt

Battle of Crécy


And the scene from the play, right here.

2 comments:

  1. The few, the happy few, the band of brothers (and sisters!)

    Yet another topic I've thought of posting about but can't seem to bring myself to do: Panetta's "women in combat" reversal. I know we have women in the cockpits of fighters and have had for quite a while. But that seems to be a LOT different than humping up and down a mountain toting an M-16. I REALLY have seriously mixed emotions about this development.

    Sorry to go OT.

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    Replies
    1. I'm right there with ya Buck. I've been wanting to do a "women in the military" post for quite some time now. Especially having two daughters on active duty AND especially seeing some of the misogynistic BS others have written on the topic. I've got strong feelings about this subject, but I'll tell you one thing - IMHO women do not belong in the infantry, nor do they belong in ground combat as a matter of policy. Sometimes sh!t happens and the ladies in some instances have acquitted themselves well in ground combat, others have not. But the same applies to males as well. Some can hack it, some cannot. Though that's an atavistic response on my part, it's how I feel.

      Problem is, that I know the Idiot Diversity Bastards (IDB) WILL lower the standards to get their "unicorns and glitter" outcome and all we'll really wind up with is America's daughters coming home in body bags because combat is nasty and unforgiving. Period. And they were not trained to the same standard as infantry in the past!

      Like you I have SERIOUS mixed emotions on this subject.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)