Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Care to Explain That?

So what’s the deal anyway with the title of this here blog, “Chant du Départ”? What kinda nonsense is this? Are you some kind of foreigner or what?
“Chant du Départ” (which is French, for those non-Francophones in the audience) means “Song of Departure” which was (according to Wikipedia) the official anthem of the First Empire.
For the historically-challenged amongst you, the First Empire was the France of Napoléon Bonaparte. The Emperor was quite a soldier, though there were many aspects of his reign which some find, ahem, distasteful. Well, not everyone’s perfect. Now I’m not saying that the Emperor was or was not a righteous dude, far from it. But the sumbitch was a hell of a general.
Given my long-term interest in the armies and wars of the First Empire (I did visit the battlefield of Waterloo on multiple occasions during my assignment to NATO, more on that someday), it was kind of natural that I would pick a Napoleonic theme for the title of my blog. Though how that came about makes for an interesting (maybe) story. Hence, today’s post.
I decided to get into blogging shortly after the departure from this veil of tears of CAPT Carroll “Lex” LeFon, USN (Ret). Needed something to fill the void as it were. I missed reading Lex’s stuff. And read it I did, every day. That man could write!
So there I was (the opening line of many an Air Force “war story”), first I had to figure out just how was I to get started doing this blogging thing? Well, I settled on using Blogger, probably because when I googled it, the first thing that caught my eye was “Free weblog publishing tool”.
Free, did I just see the word free? Yup, and the word “free” will get this Scotsman’s attention every time. So “free” it was and I jumped on it.
So I start to tinkering and one of the first things I see is that my blog needs a title. A title, WTF? Damn, now I have to think of something to call this blog-o-mine.
Didn’t want to call it “Old AF Sarge”, that’s my name. Hhhmm, what to do, what to do? Why not something Napoleonic? Okay, but what?
Immediately I tried to remember the title of an old Grande Armée song (which roughly translates to “I like onions fried in oil”). Harummph, try googling that! You’ll find lots of recipes, not much music.
Then I remembered “Chant du Départ”, the Song of Departure. The departure involved the French army going off to war. The song itself has verses for many different roles, soldiers departing, people staying behind, etc., etc., and of course it is very Republican French in nature. (Just look it up on Wikipedia, it has the lyrics in both French and English.)
Yes, I’m a conservative but the “Republican” mentioned above has nothing to do with modern US of A political parties. No, I do not consider myself a member or adherent of the Republican Party. Ditto for the Democratic Party. Both of which are busily destroying our country through greed and incompetence. As the lady I buy my gasoline from says, “they’re all crooks!” HAARRUMMPPHH! (End mini-political rant.)
After that rather long tangent, let’s get back to the point of this post. The point is - the song comes from the days of the First French Empire, it is military in nature and (most importantly) it is about departing. And, the very raison d'être for my deciding to become a blogger, was Lex. He had departed in a very final way and I felt some small need to somehow memorialize him in my blog for years to come. I wanted to do it in a subtle way, something with an “insider” feel to it. So my blog became “Chant du Départ”. And really, it’s for Lex, the “Song of Departure”.
Cue Twilight Zone music: One last thing, my first post was put up on a Thursday, round about 2030 local, which for me is EDT. (8:30 PM for you civvies, Mickie’s big hand on the 6, Mickie’s little hand on the 8 for you gravel-agitators). The next day, while admiring my handiwork, I noticed that the time of the post was given as 1728 (5:28 PM, etc.)
Hhhmm, I thinks to meself. I couldn’t have posted that at 1728, I was driving on I-495 at 1728. How can that be? So I popped the hood of my blog and noted that the time stamp for Chant du Départ was Pacific Daylight Time. Eerie. Just so happens, of course, that PDT was Lex’s “time zone of record”, so to speak. What the heck, I’m not changing that, ever. So the Chant du Départ has two little tributes to Lex, the title and of course, the time zone. For insiders only, natürlich.

Note: No Germans or French were harmed in the writing of this log. (Though I do tend to butcher their respective languages on occasion.)


  1. Nice choice Sarge. Old 'BonesApart' was indeed those things you said he was.
    Interestingly, and on a closely related parallel course, if I was asked who I considered to be the greatest Englishman in history, I would immediately say `Horatio Nelson`, for he saved our nation, but ask me again tomorrow and I'll say `Winston Churchill`, because so did he, but no one other than those two spring to mind.

  2. HD, I'm assuming that Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington would be in the top 5? (Though the Admiral and Sir Winston are excellent choices!)


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