Roman Calendar

Random Greco-Roman Image

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Scottish American War Memorial, Prince Street Gardens, Edinburgh, erected as a tribute by the men and womenof Scottish blood and sympathies in the United States, is one of the most evocative of all memorials. The figure of the kilted soldier on the plinth looks across at the impressive bulk of Edinburgh Castle dominating the scene. Behind him is an emotive bronze frieze depicting the men of Scotland answering an Gairm -the Call to Arms-, so emotive it is that it can as Burns wrote 'gar ye tae greet' (bring one to tears of emotion). Of course, to me it has especially interest because my granfather Thomas Munro, Sr. (Auld Pop we called him) answered the call himself to join the THIN RED LINE of HEROES (the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) in August 1914 along with his cousins and in-laws and best friends. In the following years they saw some of the war's heaviest fighting in both the Western Front and in the Eastern Theatre including, 2nd Ypres, Galliopoli, and the Struma Valley.

It was not unti many years after the death of my grandfather, whom I knew and loved well, that I realized how lucky I was even to have one Scottish grandfather (my other grandfather was killed August 1918).

The carved inscription is a splendid statement in the three living languages of Auld Scotia: the right true Saxon tongue, of course, (English), Gaelic (arguably the most ancient written language of the Isles), and Scots, which is really a separate language from English though it is closely related. There are a few monuments that have especial meaning to me: the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, Lincoln's tomb in Springfield, Illinois, the Iwo Jima memorial, the Menin Gate (at Ypres), the Scottish Regimental window in Glasgow Cathedral (St. Mungo's) and of course Arlington National Cemetary.

But The Scottish-American War memorial has a quality all of its own. It expresses the essence of the pride of being of Scottish descent because all Scots, Highlander and lowlander know that theirs is a splendid ancient heritage of freedom. Aye, SAORSA GU BRATH, BYDAN FREE, FOREVER UNCONQUERED. When I think of the heritage I want for my own children and for the children of my fellow citizens and neighbors above all I want their world to be a world of dignity, security and free choice. In a long journey such as we have made -and we survived the 20th century- some things must be left behind. The Islands and Highland glen stand deserted except for the call of the birds and the sound of the wind; in the old parish church I am a stranger and no one is likely to call my name or remeber my family let alone that God-fearing man Father Collins -who married my paternal grandparents and baptized my father, Thomas Munro, Jr. March 17, 1915 while his father was fighting at Ypres. In fact, Auld Pop was listed as missing in action in those days and only a miracle of friend and courage by American Johnny -his friend Johnny Robertson and the loyal Dins (Indian soldiers) led to his rescue from sure death or capture.

Here is the inscription in Scotland's three living languages:


If it be life that waits,
I shall live,
forever unconquered,
if death,
I shall die at last,
strong in my pride,
and free!


Mas e beatha a tha 'n dan,
bidh mi beo
gu siorraidh neo-cheannsaichte,
mas e am bas,
gheibh mi bas mu dheirereadh,
laidir 'nam uaisleachd,
agus saor!


Gin it's decrete at life
is tae pree,
I'll joy till't,
Gin its daith,
that weird I'll maun dee,
leal tae masel,

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