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Thursday, November 27, 2008

The EC is not a country and Europe is not really a continent eitther

“There is only one reason that I would hesitate to let Turkey into the EU. It would further open the floodgates to Third World, Islamic immigration from Southeastern Anatolia and from the slums of Istanbul. The results would be enhanced social problems for the Europeans—and even something far worse. A self-confident, anti-Western and fecund population would supplant a decayed, demoralized, and sterile European one, and gradually Europe would sink into the kind of society from whence the immigrants came, a situation that already exists in postcolonial Africa.”

Europe is really not a continent at all, point of fact, but more of a cultural fringe one which had its apogee 1500-1914. Since that suicidal internecine warfare which continued 1939-1945, Europe has essentially collapsed demographically. So it really doesn’t matter if Turkey is let in the EU or not. The Turks are already in Western Europe, particularly Germany, in a big way.
Nature abhors a void so into the population void of Germany one will see Munich as the New Brooklyn. Having travelled to Munich from between 1964 and 2003 I was amazed to notice the difference. In 1964 Germany was outwardly at least, still a European nation. By 2003 Munich seemed very much like Brooklyn, New York. I will say this for the Germans for all their PC madness they seem to insist immigrants if they want residency or citizenship learn German. They are not so foolish to imagine they can jettison religion, mores AND language too and still exist as a cultural unity. But I daresay the numbers of German women over 40 who are unmarried and never have had children is staggering. So that is the real story. Like the classical Greeks most Europeans peoples will just fade away as their countries gradually become little Lebanons . I fully believe most European languages will experience the fate of Latin in North Africa and Greek in Egypt.
The first European languages to become extinct will be the minority indigenous European languages such as Breton, Welsh and the Gaelic languages. Then we could add Flemish and so on until we eventually get to Italian, German, Swedish. I have some hope for Polish because the Polish are the one European country which shows some demographic vigor. In fact, by the end of the 21st century Poland could be the leading European country by the viritue of the fact it may be the ONLY European country.
All the other countries will exist of course geographically the way Galicia exists or Andulacia exists or Normandy exists or Lombardy exists but by the end of the 21st century they will have ceased to exist as European countries; their own native languages will probably dwindle to the mother tongue of an every increasing and increasing oppressed ethnic minority. Holland will probably be the first to go because it is well on its way.
So, yes, I suppose Turkey in the EU will just accelerate the trend but as Turkey is a NATO country it makes sense for it to be in the EU.
I suppose we could cross our fingers and hope for the best but perhaps that is no a prohibited activity in EC passport countries.
Yes, the EC reminds me of the Holy Roman Empire. It is neither European nor a Community. Just a confederation of dunces committing sexual suicide.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bonnie Mairi MacInnes in Scotland: A grand lassie with voice of a nightingale and the heart of St. Bridget

Great Monkey Poster: I have always loved Monkeys and Great Movies: INHERIT THE WIND WAS A GREAT MOVIE though it could have used a few more monkeys


The Wisdom of the Sound of Music


By Richard K. Munro
The Story of the Trapp Family Singers is a memoir written by Maria Augusta von Trapp, the neophyte-turned-baroness whose life was fictionalized, secularized and romanticized in the musical The Sound of Music. (See “The Real Story of the von Trapp Singers). But the basic story line is true; for example as depicted in The Sound of Music, the family won first place in the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936 and became successful, singing folk songs and classical music, in the style of the Vienna Boys Choir, all across Europe. The curious thing about the music of The Sound of Music is, of course, is that none of the music sung –except for the religious songs- are traditional but are creations by Rogers and Hammerstein. This is intentional, I believe, because so many traditional Austrian and German songs were used in the Hitler Youth and so were, however unfairly, seen contaminated by their associations with Nazism as Wagner was. One of Maria’s friends wrote:
Maria never intended to write anything of her life; but a friend persistently pleaded with her not to allow her story to be forgotten by others. She denied she had any writing skill whatsoever, but her friend was not to be put off and kept on asking her whenever they saw each other. Finally, one day, in desperation, Maria excused herself and went to her room for an hour to scribble a few pages about her life story, hoping to prove once and for all she was no writer. However, this displayed such natural writing talent that she reluctantly agreed to finish what she had started, and her jottings formed the basis of the first chapter of her memoirs
Some of the lines in the musical play are almost verbatim quotations from Maria’s story but others of course are completely fictional; for example all the discussions with Max are fictional because Max was an entirely fictional creation of the musical play; he is an effective foil for Captain von Trapp, however, and creates a link to the festival, and the Baroness. The Sound of Music is more than a charming musical play; it has a famous and witty script that deals with important issues such as the following: how to choose your life’s career and direction? How to educate children? Does might (power) make right or is government to be by consent of the people?

Q1 How to choose your life’s career and direction?
The Mother Abbess stresses, with humility and love, FREE WILL (libre albedrío). Ultimately, your life’s choices must be YOUR choices, according to the hand (cards) life deals you. YOU MUST TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR OWN LIFE and TAKE RESPOSIBLITY for your actions or inactions. She counsels Maria to follow her heart and keep to her ideals to the very end, remaining true to herself. Do the right thing! If she can to that she will find happiness and love. Love in all its manifold forms and manifold kindnesses is the raison d’être of human life and the most powerful force for good we may find in ourselves. Maria tutored the von Trapp children and developed a caring and loving relationship with all the children. She enjoyed singing with them and getting them involved in outdoor activities. During this time, Captain von Trapp fell in love with Maria and asked her to stay with him and become a second mother to his children. Of his proposal, Maria said, "God must have made him word it that way because if he had only asked me to marry him I might not have said yes." As Virgil sang amor omnia vincit, love conquers all.

Climb every mountain, search high and low
Follow every byway, every path you know.
Climb every mountain, ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow, 'til you find your dream!

A dream that will need
all the love you can give,
Every day of your life
for as long as you live.

Climb every mountain, ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow, 'til you find your dream!

Sister Margaretta: Reverend Mother, I have sinned.
Sister Berthe: I, too, Reverend Mother.
Mother Abbess: What is this sin, my children?
[the nuns look at each other, then reveal from under their robes the distributor and coil they have removed from the Germans' cars]

Q2 How to educate children? “Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could.” -María
Capitan von Trapp “The first rule of this household is discipline.”
Frau Schmidt: “The Von Trapp children don't play. They march”. Is this the path of the Van Trapp family? To be Nazi storm troopers?
But Maria’s answer is you teach with love, with joy, with patience and with delight! Admit some flaws in people and children; usually the rest is not bad at all. Reject the bad but focus on the positive! When Georg von Trapp approached the Reverend Mother of the Abbey seeking a teacher for his sick daughter, Maria was chosen because of her skill as a teacher and musical talents. Maria was supposed to remain with the von Trapps for 10 months, at the end of which she would formally enter the convent and take up her final vows as a nun. I think people forget that Maria was a very gifted and wise teacher. Authority, in Maria’s view, does not impose or coerce. It enlightens; it invites; it sings. Its appeal is to the heart and to the understanding, not the merely the will. A good teacher does not strong-arm students or make appeals to position but earns confidence by EXPERIENCE, PATIENCE, KNOWLEDGE, INSIGHT and finally TRUTH. A good teacher like a good shepherdess loves her flock and does no harm. She knows the Good of the Flock is greater than the good of the Shepherd for the Flock –the youth- is the future. The greatest thing is not obedience and the strong hand but free choice with love, respect for the dignity of all, respect for wisdom and respect and awareness for the need to have restraint ,self-control and gratitude. Maria has joy but great humility. Nature, as Maria sees it –the heart delighting beauty of creation- can be that window which allows us to have, perhaps, a glimpse of God.
Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth

For here you are, standing there, loving me
Whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

We can know something of the beauty of God the Father through the beauty of his design. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.” ( Matthew, 6). As Keats sang, “Truth is beauty and Beauty is Truth”.

Q3 Does might (power) make right or is government to be by consent of the people? This is the argument of the Nazis who believed in the strong hand, coerced obedience and who said, essentially, “work, pay, obey or die”.
Captain Von Trapp answers: ________________________________________
I am a free man and both my faith and freedom are important to me and my family. I will sacrifice anything for that freedom –even my life and be prepared to lose everything –even my property, my home and my country. No one can force me to join the Nazi Navy as a U-boat commander! I will not be ordered by a madman to countless atrocities! No one has the right take my children from me and force them to join the Hitler Youth! No one has a right to take my beloved country over and make it a province of a criminal enterprise called the Third Reich! God forbid! I will not be slave or a collaborator to the Nazis because I know they are evil and will bring nothing but death, destruction and devastation to my Austria, my family and the world. Yes, we will lose our home, all our money and all our property but not our souls and not our family. The Nazis can take everything away but not our strong faith, our love and our desire to be free!

His signature song is Edelweiss meaning NOBLE and PURE ALPINE FLOWER ”(Leontopodium alpinum), a mountain flower of the sunflower family (Asteraceae). The name comes from German edel (meaning noble) and weiß (meaning white).

Captain von Trapp: My fellow Austrians, I shall not be seeing you again perhaps for a very long time. I would like to sing for you now... a love song. I know you share this love. I pray that you will never let it die. EDELWEISS (Flor Alpina)
Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me
Small and white clean and bright
You look happy to meet me
Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever
Bless my homeland forever.
Max: What's going to happen's going to happen. Just make sure it doesn't happen to you.
Captain von Trapp: Max. Don't you *ever* say that again.
Max: You know I have no political convictions. Can I help it if other people do?
Captain von Trapp: Oh yes, you can help it. You must help it.

Herr Zeller: Perhaps those who would warn you that the Anschluss is coming - and it is coming, Captain - perhaps they would get further with you by setting their words to music.
Captain von Trapp: If the Nazis take over Austria, I have no doubt, Herr Zeller, that you will be the entire trumpet section.
Herr Zeller: You flatter me, Captain.
Captain von Trapp: Oh, how clumsy of me - I meant to accuse you.

When the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, the von Trapps realized that they were in great danger. Capitan von Trapp did in fact refuse to fly the Nazi flag on his house, but he also refused a request to sing at Hitler's birthday party. Maria and Captain von Trapp were also becoming aware of the Nazis' anti-religious propaganda and policies, the pervasive fear that those around them could be acting as spies for the Nazis, and the brainwashing of children against their parents. And one truth more. Captain von Trapp had been born in Fiume which was once a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As it was part of Italy, he claimed Italian citizenship for himself and his family thus was granted automatic residency. Thus, the von Trapps were saved because of Italy’s liberal immigration policies. In real life they did not have to climb the mountains to escape to Switzerland. They did sneak out of Austria, however, getting on a train early on a Sunday morning, with few or no personal possessions. They made their way to the USA where they were granted asylum and applied for U.S. citizenship in 1942 where they lived happily ever after. They built a lodge in Vermont, USA, which is still in family hands.

“THE SOUND OF MUSIC”(Sonrisas y Lágrimas)by R. Munro
Winner of Five Oscars including BEST PICTURE (1965)
Starring the great Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer
A musical based on the real life adventures of Maria and the Von Trapp Family Singers. 1959 Broadway hit show by Rogers and Hammerstein. The children and their grandchildren are still alive and live in Vermont, USA.
TIME: 1938 just before and during the Anschluss (forced Nazi union with Hitler’s Germany: the Third Reich)

PLACE: Salzburg, The Republic of Austria ( made famous for its schools, architecture, churches, art and great musical traditions by the great Maria Theresa of Austria (watch for her portraits and busts as during the song EDELWEISS) The capital of Austria is Vienna and it is officially a neutral country. Austria is of course the Spanish Habsburg name for the country which is called “Österreich“ or Eastern (Germanic/Celtic ) Kingdom; the Romans, who founded Vienna called their province“ Noricum“ based on a Celtic word Norig meaning Eastern Kingdom.


“The Good Guys” (the protagonists):
The Von Trapp Family Singers and their friends: CAPTAN VON TRAPP
Captain Von Trapp: CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER. He really was a U-Boat captain from WWI, operating chiefly in the Adriatic and Mediterranean.
The Baroness: a famous Hollywood star of the 50’s in her last great screen role ELEANOR PARKER
The Von Trapp Family Children (7): LIESEL, LOUISA, FRIEDRICH,KURT,BRIGITTA, MARTA, GRETL (In real life there were ten children in all!))
THE MUSIC EMPRESARIO: Max Deitweiler (RICHARD HAYDEN) NB Instead of the fictional Max Detweiler, pushy music promoter, the von Trapps' priest, the Reverend Franz Wasner, acted as their musical director for over 20 years. The musical play slightly secularized the story.
THE ABBEY: The Mother Abbess; the Nuns Sister Brigitta and Sister Berthe
THE BAD GUYS: THE ANTAGONISTS: The Nazis (German and Austrians)
Herr Zeller: Austria Nazi collaborator (“Gauleiter” local Nazi boss)”


1) What is the Anschluss? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
2) Why doesn’t Captain Trapp have a wife to take care of his seven children?

3) Why doesn’t Maria stay at the Abbey to become a nun?


4) Captain Von Trapp’s education ideas clash with Maria’s. The Captain believes ‘The first rule of this household is discipline. “ His housekeeper notes “The Von Trapp children don't play. They march. Is this the path of the Van Trapp family to be Nazi storm troopers? How to educate children? The Baroness says “send them away to boarding school.”
Maria’s answer is__________________________________________________________________
5) The children, mischievous and initially hostile to Fraulein (Miss) Maria, eventually come to love her when she introduces them to the pleasures of _____________________________________________________________________
6) After the Captain announces his engagement to marry the forty-something Baroness (Elsa Schraeder) what does Maria do?

7) The Music empresario, Max Dettweiler, tries to convince the Captain to let the children do what?______________________________________________________
8) The Nazis takes power in Austria as part of the Anschluss and tries to force Captain von Trapp back into Naval service with the 3rd Reich. How does he react?__________
9) In a subplot, Liesl, falls for a messenger named Rolfe. What causes them to break up?


Sister Margaretta: Reverend Mother, I have sinned.
Sister Berthe: I, too, Reverend Mother.
Mother Abbess: What is this sin, my children?
What die the nuns do? Note the technical word are “the distributor and coil”.


Churchill , the Battle of the Atlantic and War in general

The only thing that really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril" – From Carlo D'Este's masterful Warlord: A Life of Winston Churchill at War, 1874-1945


Sir Winston Churchill , British Prime Minister during WWII. That’s saying a lot. He was confident –he knew the odds- that the British with radar and Spitfires versus light bombers and short range German fighters –would win the Battle of Britain. He had observed how the RAF made mincemeat of the JU-87 Stukkas at Dunkirk. Many German planes could operate only at short range for tactical purposes and in an environment of COMPLETE AIR SUPERIORITY. Anywhere the Nazis lost Air Supremacy –North Africa, Russia, Southern Italy, Northern France they were finished and most of their vaunted Air Force was almost useless particularly during day time operations.

I always teach that the Battle of the Atlantic, underplayed in most text books, was one of the most critical if not the most critical battle of WWII. Without victory here there would have been no Torch nor Operation Overlord. It was the longest continuous battle campaign of WWII beginning in 1939 and ending about February 1943. There were over 100 ship convoy battles and over 1,000 single ship encounters. Here, once again, technology like RADAR developed for non-military purposes, gave the Allies the edge. ASDIC (or Sonar as it is now known) and the Ultra Secret (Enigma cipher) which led to the breaking of the German Naval Code, were decisive intelligence weapons Nonetheless, it was no an automatic advantage. German U-boats could dive far deeper than Allied submarines, to well below the deepest setting on the British depth charges with were effect to only about 300 or 350 feet. German U-boats in WWII could dive to 210 meters (700 feet) or more. Depth charges also disturbed the water so greatly that if the first attack failed it was very difficult to regain contact. The U-boats’ Achilles heel of course that though they had diesel engines –which could be used only on the surface they had to charge their batteries on the surface which they usually did under the cover of darkness. The introduction of the Leigh Light or L/L as it was known to the tars combined with radar, enabled devastatingly accurate nighttime attacks L/L was used on surface ships and on B-24 Liberators.

A great book that deal with this cat and mouse warfare is The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monserrat. Which was made into an excellent film with the late Jack Hawkins. (though I never show it to my students; it is too grown up and too British for them I recommend it however)

Victory was achieved at a huge cost: between 1939 and 1945, over 3,500 Allied merchant ships were sunk (gross tonnage 14.5 million) . Over 175 Allied warships were sunk Over 30,000 Allied sailors (chiefly Canadian and British but also Americans) were killed. This does not count the Allied soldiers and Marines drowned when their ships were torpedoed. The Germans, of course, lost heavily, particularly in late 1942 and early 1943. They lost 783 U-boats and about 28,000 sailors. The U-boat became known a the “Iron Coffin.” Das Boot is a fairly realistic account of the German U-boaters but of course it is partially a remake of the ENEMY BELOW in which Curt Jurgens is the anti-Nazi Naval officer. It is a pretty movie and it was popular in 1950’s Germany because most of the Germans are good Germans and reluctant warriors just doing their duty. The truth is many U-boat captains were cruel and fanatical Nazis who did in fact not only abandon thousands of ship-wrecked men, women and children to their fates in the North Atlantic but also ordered their men to machine gun Allied survivors. Of course, I have friends and relatives who were Islanders (that is to say Gaels of the Western Islands). They have told me harrowing stories of thunderous explosions far out to sea and the shores littered the following day with debris and the bodies of dead sailors –many of whom died from exposure not drowning.

War is a terrible thing.
A wasteful thing and really, of course, a stupid thing and a tragic thing. And let me say no one knows this like the soldier, the sailor, the airman or Marine because it is they who make the greatest sacrifices.

There is no doubt in my mind that peace is better than war. (La paz es mejor que la guerra) La palabra "Guerra" es horrorosa por su significado (it is horrible and terrific in its sound) so is the German “Krieg” (war) as in blitzkrieg. War (originally Warra), Guerra and Krieg, I can’t help but add are all Germanic in origin. So great is the memory of the break up of the Pax Romana.

But though I am a lover of peace, I am no pacifist.

There is an old Highland saying, “Am fear nach gleidh na h-airm san t-sith, cha bhi iad aige ‘’n arm a ‘chogaidh, which means, “the man who keeps not his arms in peace will have none at the ready when war comes.”

And , ladies and gentleman, the world is a dangerous place. War always comes whether we bid her or not. She is an uncontrollable and terrible and bloodthirsty as the Morrigan and her evil manifestations, Neman, Macha and Fea (not to be confused with FEA –the Florida Education Association). . The Morrígan –“The Great Queen of War or the Phantom Queen” is seen a a Black Carrion Crow after a battle and before hand was seen in the role of a bean nighe or “washerwoman”. When the hero Cúchulainn rides out to war, he encounters the Morrígan as a hag or witch, washing his bloody armor in a river. . From this evil omen he comes to the realization that the battle that awaits him will be his last. “Toom (empty) cam his saddle, a’ bloody to see, oh, back cam his guid horse but never cam he!” .

Neman , confounded armies, so that friendly bands fall in mutual slaughter. (cf. the Greek Nemesis) The name may plausibly be an extended form of the Proto-Indo-European root of the name is *nem- ‘seize, take, deal out’ to which is related the Ancient Greek Némesis ‘wrath, nemesis’ and the name Nemesis the personification of retributive justice in Greek mythology. There fore Neman means the “enemy” or “twisted sister”.

The Macha –related to the (the jealous goddess of boundaries and land as well as cattle and horses –wealth- the cause of so much earthly strife). The acorn crop of Macha –I was told- were the harvest of heads gathered by Celtic warriors. The city of Armagh Ard-Macha (the High Place of Macha) –the burial place of St. Patrick- recalls her name and probably was the pagan worship center of the goddess Brian Boru is buried at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh (Church of Ireland; formerly a Catholic Cathedral).

and Fea, of course, one of the manifestations of the Morrigan, could mean the Ugly Hag as the Spanish word (possibly Celtic? ) suggest. We do know that Hags “ Cailleach or Caileachan- they were called once upon a time - or witches were supernatural beings of malign influence who dwelled in dark caves, dark wood and isolated corries in the far hills and bens. The Morrigan by tradition took on the guise of an ugly old woman in times of misery, starvation and war and in peace and good times they appear as beautiful maidens.

One can dismiss these things –as silly pagan myths but I think here as in Greek mythology we find the personification of mankind’s true nature –his dark side if you will or what they used to call Original Sin, that hereditary stain of mankind and its consequences. Man’s fate is man’s fate.

We, are, as my Auld Pop gravely told me, all descendant of cannibals, head hunters and killers. He often spoke of the ‘mire-catha’ or the “Irish “in us or the ancient blood lust or battle frenzy which he considered hereditary.

Yes, we are killers.
Killers of great herds of bison, horse and mammoth.
Killers of great fish.
Violators of maidens.
Destroyers of forests and destroyers of the beauty of the mountains.

What is the Angle-Saxon but a “killer Angel”?

What is the Celt but a “Striker or Killer”?

What is a Scot but a “Pagan Pirate , a Reiver and a free booter”.

What are the Germans –the Germani- “the many brothers’ but Alley-men , Huns and Boche?

I was told that Boche was originally Cabbage Head in other words a French verson of Krauthead. My uncles, who served in the European theatre of WWII often called the Germans the “Krauts”.

Terms of disparagement in English during WWII used by British troops were ‘Jerry’ and ‘Fritz’ in the British army and navy, and ‘Hun’ in the RAF, though my Auld Pop usually called them “Jairmens’ or “Huns.” Canadian and American troops generally preferred ‘Heinie,’ ‘Kraut’ or Fritz. Many of these definitions are to be found in an old book of my father’s called Songs and Slang of the British Soldier: 1914-1918, edited by John Brophy and Eric Partridge, published in 1930. Perhaps we should never use such terms; it is not my tendency to use derrogatory or offensive words. But they are historic terms and my forefathers certainly earned the right to use them; they didn't pick a fight with the Germans in two world wars but it was thrust upon them. And in my opinion they are the working man equilament of Kaiserism, Prussian Militarism or Nazism. In other words the Germans OF THAT ERA are fair game and there is no need to beat about the bush or the boshe so to speak.

We are, the Most Dangerous Game and the Most Dangerous Killer. Who could deny that? Perhaps it is man’s nature to kill and to fight and this is especially true, I think of the male of the species, though I have known many savage and wild women too. Auld Pop also added this is why we needed and needed badly to be taught restraint and self-control. Never hit a woman or a child if at all possible he said and know that a man can kill a man with a single blow. Having almost killed a man myself –in the line of duty- I know this to be true. Auld Pop was never proud of the scores of Germans, Bulgarians and Turks he killed and the killing of column of mere boys at Ypres –some must have been at young as fifteen- haunted him his entire life. He was strongly against the death penalty for example especially for soldiers under arms. He had to witness numerous French firing squads of French soldiers who were often picked by lot. He witnessed many terrible things and suffered many terrible things but one thing he never had to do was be part of a firing squad of his own people.

Auld Pop often said the worst thing about the Nazis was their glorification of war –he considered it a Death Cult- and the glorification of pre-Christian war gods and warriors. It is very interesting of course that Wagner , German nationalists and Hitler himself were fascinated by the Nordic equivalent of the Morrigan –the war deities called the Valkyries.

“Those were things the Great Teacher taught us to leave behind or at the very least try to master”. “He who conquers himself is greater than he who conquers cities” was a favorite quote of the Psalms. It is interesting to note that this was also a favorite quote of George Washington , Abraham Lincoln and General Eisenhower.

Man and by that I mean woman too will never be in complete mastery of his or her passions. It is unjust to make us responsible for an act committed before our birth”, say some. Strictly responsible, yes; responsible in a wide sense of the word, no; the crime of a father brands his yet unborn children with shame, and entails upon them a share of his own responsibility. If you don’t believe this ask the Germans what they think of Nazism or many White people what they think of slavery or many Catholics what they think of Anti-Semitism. There is such a thing as War Guilt, White Guilt and Christian Guilt.

The wise man –and woman- knows there is a peace to be found only after war.

Yes, war is terrible but can anyone imagine what living under the Shadow of the Swastika would not have meant terror and mass killing on a scale that if left unchecked would have surpassed all the killing and dying for both World Wars combined.

The wise man –and woman- knows there is a peace to be found only after war. Let all our wars be just and let them be short and yes, let them happen Over There not here.
On a final note it is interesting that Eleanor Roosevelt did not like Churchill at all.
As John Baron says “To the first lady, the English Prime Minister was a dogmatic, chauvinistic, war-mongering night owl who imbibed and smoked too much, and was a bad influence on her husband.” In FDR’s opinion,
In the president's opinion, Churchill was "about the greatest man in the world. In fact, he may very likely be the greatest." FDR was wise enough to know that without absolute victory against the Nazis there would be no survival. We may take that as a prophecy of our own survival and success as we seek peace and freedom in our own time.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Gettysburg Address
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
November 19, 1863

On June 1, 1865, Senator Charles Sumner commented on what is now considered the most famous speech by President Abraham Lincoln. In his eulogy on the slain president, he called it a "monumental act." He said Lincoln was mistaken that "the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here." Rather, the Bostonian remarked, "The world noted at once what he said, and will never cease to remember it. The battle itself was less important than the speech."

MUNRO: I don't agree at all with Sunmer that the battle itself was less important than the speech; the speech was great because it acknowledged the greatness of the actions of the MEN such as Col Chamberlain who put their lives on the line for the survival and success of liberty. Lincoln told the truth: His words were a small thing compared to the great thing of the courage and sacrifice of the troops. But he helped immortalize Gettysburg and he gave one of the best short definitions of democracy ever: a government OF the people, BY the people and FOR the people.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Source: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler. The text above is from the so-called "Bliss Copy," one of several versions which Lincoln wrote, and believed to be the final version. For additional versions, you may search The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln through the courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Association.



Argylls at Ypres 1915

They were among the first troops to experience a poison gas attack in April 1915



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gratitude bestows reverence

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.

~ John Milton ~

(1608-1674, English poet)

Pangur Ban a little Irish Gaelic masterpiece

"The Scholar and the Cat"
"From the Irish of Pangur Ban"

by Frank O'Connor

Each of us pursues his trade,
I and Pangur my comrade,
His whole fancy on the hunt,
And mine for learning ardent.

More than fame I love to be
Among my books and study,
Pangur does not grudge me it,
Content with his own merit.

When ­ a heavenly time! ­ we are
In our small room together
Each of us has his own sport
And asks no greater comfort.

While he sets his round sharp eye
On the wall of my study
I turn mine, though lost its edge,
On the great wall of knowledge.

Now a mouse drops in his net
After some mighty onset
While into my bag I cram
Some difficult darksome problem.

When a mouse comes to the kill
Pangur exults, a marvel!
I have when some secret's won
My hour of exultation.

Though we work for days and years
Neither the other hinders;
Each is competent and hence
Enjoys his skill in silence.

Master of the death of mice,
He keeps in daily practice,
I too, making dark things clear,
Am of my trade a master.

The original Old Irish plus a more literal translation….

Pangur Bán The Scholar and his Cat
(Murphy's title)
Messe ocus Pangur Bán,
cechtar nathar fria saindan:
bíth a menmasam fri seilgg,
mu memna céin im saincheirdd.

I and white Felix,
each of us two (keeps) at his specialty:
his mind is set on hunting,
my mind on my special subject.

Caraimse fos (ferr cach clu)
oc mu lebran, leir ingnu;
ni foirmtech frimm Pangur Bán:
caraid cesin a maccdán.

I love (it is better than all fame)
to be quiet beside my book, with persistent inquiry.
Not envious of me White Felix;
_he_ loves his childish art.

O ru biam (scél cen scís)
innar tegdais, ar n-oendís,
taithiunn, dichrichide clius,
ni fris tarddam ar n-áthius.

When we two are (tale without boredom)
alone in our house,
we have something to which we may apply our skill,
an endless sport.

Gnáth, huaraib, ar gressaib gal
glenaid luch inna línsam;
os mé, du-fuit im lín chéin
dliged ndoraid cu ndronchéill.

It is customary at times for a mouse to stick in his net,
as a result of warlike struggles (feats of valor).
For my part, into _my_ net falls
some difficult crux of hard meaning.

Fuachaidsem fri frega fál
a rosc, a nglése comlán;
fuachimm chein fri fegi fis
mu rosc reil, cesu imdis.

He directs his bright perfect eye
against an enclosing wall.
Though my (once) clear eye is very weak
I direct it against acuteness of knowledge.

Faelidsem cu ndene dul
hi nglen luch inna gerchrub;
hi tucu cheist ndoraid ndil
os me chene am faelid.

He is joyful with swift movement
when a mouse sticks in his sharp claw.
I too am joyful
when I understand a dearly loved difficult question.

Cia beimmi a-min nach ré
ni derban cách a chele:
maith la cechtar nár a dán;
subaigthius a óenurán.

Though we are always like this,
neither of us bothers the other:
each of us likes his craft,
rejoicing alone each in his.

He fesin as choimsid dáu
in muid du-ngni cach oenláu;
du thabairt doraid du glé
for mu mud cein am messe.

He it is who is master for himself
of the work which he does every day.
I can perform my own task,
directed toward understanding clearly that which is difficult

THE ROAD SIDE FIRE...the fine song for singing, the rare song to hear that only I remember, that only you admire

A charming pearl set to music by Ralph Vaughn Williams; it has long been one of my favorite art songs.

I have heard it performed by William Tabbert, Kenneth McKellar and Robert Merrill and of course we sang it at home as well….We sang the last verse together many many times on long car rides from Up State New York after having exhausted our repertoire of folk songs mostly Scottish and some Irish some French some Italian and some American

(I will make you brooches and toys for your delight)

I will make you brooches and toys for your delight

Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night,

I will make a palace fit for you and me

Of green days in forests, and blue days at sea.

I will make my kitchen, and you shall keep your room,

Where white flows the river and bright blows the broom;

And you shall wash your linen and keep your body white

In rainfall at morning and dewfall at night.

And this shall be for music when no one else is near,

The fine song for singing, the rare song to hear!

That only I remember, that only you admire,

Of the broad road that stretches and the roadside fire.

Also from the SONGS OF TRAVEL is

In the Highlands by R L Stevenson

In the Highlands, in the country places,

Where the old plain men have rosy faces,

And the young fair maidens quiet eyes;

Where essential silence cheers and blesses,

And forever in the hill recesses

Her more lovely music broods and dies -

O to mount again where erst I haunted;

Where the old red hills are bird-enchanted,

And the low green meadows bright with sward;

And when even dies, the million-tinted,

And the night has come, and planets glinted,

Lo, the valley hollow lamp bestarr'd!

O to dream, O to awake and wander

There, and with delight to take and render,

Through the trance of silence, quiet breath!

Lo! for there, among the flow'rs and grasses,

Only the mightier movements sounds and passes, -

Only winds and rivers, life and death.

These are the limits of art and part of our splendid ancient heritage of music and verse…

I at least will love these things till I die…


The Argyll monument at YPRES has an inscription La a’bhlair, ‘s math na cairdean ON THE DAY OF BATTLE ‘TIS GOOD TO HAVE FRIENDS.AYE, ‘S truth

Captain Dick Donald Porteous ASH Killed May 10, 1915 (Ypres Salient)

He was my Auld Pop’s company commander from December 1914 until his death. I believe it was he who broke Johnny Robertson to the ranks but It may have been an English higher up...just one of the legends we grew up with...

IT WAS 1915 in the YPRES SALIENT…..

On the evening of the 25th the 3rd Brigade was relieved by British troops, but the 3rd Battalion was ordered to remain until other troops came up. This it did until dusk of the 26th, when it was relieved by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Ordinarily the name of the unit that relieves your own is one of the details of campaigning that dims in the memory with the lapse of days. But the survivors of the 3rd remember the advent of the Argyll and Sutherlands as the most beautiful of actual war-pictures. For without preparation they attacked towards St. Julien Wood and staged the attack with superb and punctilious regularity. The expression " as if on parade," sometimes applied to well performed manoeuvres, is no more adequate to convey the picture than would the word " pretty " be good enough for Juno the Queen of Heaven. It was marvellous to see these splendid Highlanders spring forward and simultaneously drop, fire, spring up again, and go forward to the whistle of an officer wearing a monocle. Up and up they went, with casualties falling here and there under the fire of the German machine guns, until they had covered half the distance to the wood. Thence, the attack having failed, they retired, leaving more casualties, but not abating one whit of the snap and regularity of their movements. The 3rd stood in their trenches and ad-mired. Yes, because the deed was admirable and even in a cynical world not without a sort of usefulness. For the Germans looking on must have felt the shabbiness of their own new warfare and wondered at the force that could make men die so splendidly.

The Argyll monument has an inscription La a’bhlair, ‘s math na cairdean ON THE DAY OF BATTLE ‘TIS GOOD TO HAVE FRIENDS.

MUNRO ( The new kind of warfare was POISON GAS; the officer with the monocle would have been Captain Porteus later KIA…ne obliviscaris; he was a well beloved leader and the Argylls would have

followed him into hell as they indeed did)

NOVEMBER 11 2008


EPECIALLY the ANTS (Company A –the volunteers of August 1914 3rd Battalion ASH –drafted into the 1st Battalion Dec 12 , 1914 and thence to that grim gap of death called the YPRES SALIENT

Corporal John Robertson (American Johnny), MM killed in the Clydeside Blitz 1941 his inseparable friend in Scotland and America:; he had worked with THOMAS EDISON before the war. My father knew him well. He returned to Scotland in 1938. I own some of his books and personal effects he gave to my father. In March 1915 he and a band of Dins saved my grandfather and a few other ANTS from death or capture. My grandfather was listed as missing in action when my father was born; but by the time he was baptized March 17, 1915 the telegram had come that he was alive. That must have been a happy day for Mary Munro and Father Collins. My father, naturally, had no memory of the day!

Thomas Munro, Sr. MM “Shalako Tommy : Changa Dost –the Good Comrade) father of Mbuti Teniente Thomas Munro jr The Good Lieutenant USAR WWI 1942-146. and Sergeant Jos Munro USAC 1942-1945, graduate of Glasgow University 1942.

Danny McQueen , Sr. KIA his son was killed at Guadalcanal along with DOUGLAS MUNRO who were serving in the American forces.

Tommy Craig, Sr. KIA

Jimmy Quiqley KIA

Andrew Muir KIA

Captain Porteous KIA

Major MacKenzie KIA

Sergeant O’Neill KIA

The Argylls suffered 400% casualties; over 7131 killed and over 25,000 casualties.

Their comrades of the Highland Light Infantry (Captain Colin Campbell Mitchell MC battlefield commission from the ranks

And the Black Watch

And all the rest whose names are lost in the mists of time.

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
19th May 1915

Lance Corporal
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
25th Sep 1915

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
13th Nov 1916

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
16th Jan 1916

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
14th Jul 1916

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
20th Jan 1917

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
20th Nov 1917

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
23rd Apr 1917

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
23rd Apr 1917

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
24th Apr 1917

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
25th Apr 1917

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
26th Jul 1918

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
24th Aug 1918

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
14th Dec 1918

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
18th Apr 1918

Lance Corporal
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
30th Jul 1918

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
22nd Oct 1918

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
14th Oct 1918

Second Lieutenant
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
24th Mar 1918

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
31st Mar 1942

Second Lieutenant
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
1st Jan 1942

Warrant Officer Class I
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
10th Jan 1942

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
24th Oct 1942

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
13th Jan 1942

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
17th Apr 1943


Sacrifice of Arthur Conan Doyle's Family

Yes, we should have enormous gratitude for the people who bestowed upon us a free and prosperous life but especially a free life. That is the motto on my blog BYDAN FREE forever free.

My family came to American with only two things:

A strong faith and a strong desire to be free. We value that heritage.

We no longer are Gaelic speaking –I will be the last of my family to have a knowledge of Gaelic- but as my father said in a long journey some things have to be left behind. My grandfather left the Gaeltacht in 1894 never to return.

He spoke Gaelic –and Punjabi- quite frequently during his military service but after that it dwindled and he never again lived in a Gaelic speaking community. The only Gaelic he heard was from recordings or the names of pipe tunes. He couldn’t read it either. What little education he had was in English. His best Englsih dialect was the braid Scots. He always said THOCHT for though for example and used many Scottisms in his speech. Burns was easy for him. He had read a lot of Burns and the King James Bible when he was young at sea with a Scottish sea captain. He was a boy apprentice in a tall ship from 1894-1902. I wish I remembered the name of the ship and the captain –I remember him telling me stories about ti but I was crazy to hear about Clan Munro and the Argylls so I paid more attention to his military career. But looking back his Odyssey was very interesting as a boy and later as a WWI vet working around America and boarding with his friends of the HLI and Argylls who were his bosom friends. They worked in construction and ship building in Baltimore , New York and Galveston Texas. I don’t believe they travelled by train very often but by sea.

Richard MUNRO


From: Michael Munro []
Sent: Sunday, November 09, 2008 8:43 AM
Subject: RE: The sacrifice of the Doyle family of Edinburgh 1914-1919

Hey those images make me feel grateful!


Amen to that…will send other things…always a big day in my family we used to call it Armistice Day and now it is Remembrance Day in Britain and most Commonwealth countries.

We lost over 30 family members and friends in the Ypres Salient 1914-1918 including two of my grandfather’s brothers and one brother in law.

My father’s cousin’s fiancé was killed at Ypres and so was the father of my godmother’s fiancé ; her fiancé was killed serving in the American Forces (US Marine Corps) in Guadalcanal 1942 in the defense of Henderson Field.

Douglas Munro –our kinsman –he was the descendant of Scottish immigrants to Canada –he was born in Vancouver BC- was killed in action Sept 27 1942 which is ironically the same day my sister in law was born and my father died September 27,2003.

So I knew my father’s date of death all my life. (he was awarded, posthumously the Medal of Honor by Franklin D. Roosevelt for his heroism in covering the evacuation of several Marine companies –saving the lives of hundreds of Marines; his ancestors served in the 93rd Highlanders at Balaklava the Thin Red Line of Heroes)

Arthur Conan Doyle (Scottish author of Sherlock Holmes stories) lost many close relatives –six- in the Great War as it was known.

His son Kingsley, his brother Innes

His two brother in laws, his two nephews

Kingsley survived the Somme but was severely wounded and died of pneumonia October 28, 1918 so he never saw Armistice Day. Talk about supreme sacrifice.

74,000 Scots were killed in WWI and they suffered 250,000 casualties (in a country of four million); it was the highest per capita causality rate of any country even Russia.

In WWII 25,000 Scots were killed so the toll was much greater in WWI.

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders –my Auld Pop’s Regiment suffered 7,131 killed and over 25,000 casualties. The 1st Battalion ASH –which saw some of the heaviest fighting in the war 2ndYpres, Gallipoli, the Struma Valley suffered over 400% causalities.

NE OBLIVISCARIS…do not forget

Let us hope and pray there is no disrespect ON REMEMBRANCE DAY



Band of Brothers (Choral version)

You never lived to see
What you gave to me
One shining dream of hope and love
Life and liberty

With a host of brave unknown soldiers
For your company, you will live forever
Here in our memory

In fields of sacrifice
Heroes paid the price
Young men who died for old men's wars
Gone to paradise

We are all one great band of brothers
And one day you'll see we can live together
When all the world is free

I wish you'd lived to see
All you gave to me
Your shining dream of hope and love
Life and liberty

We are all one great band of brothers
And one day you'll see - we can live together
When all the world is free


Diane RAVITCH says:

Never before has the heavy hand of the federal government reached so intrusively into every classroom in the nation. And there is little to show for this intrusion.

The Obama administration can get off to a good start by revising NCLB.

First, it should eliminate the goal of universal proficiency by 2014, because it is unattainable. Period. No state or nation has ever achieved 100% proficiency.

Second, it should recognize that the federal government is best at providing accurate information, such as what children in each grade need to know to be abreast of international standards (that is known as the curriculum) and whether our children are meeting those standards (that is, testing); third, the administration should expect states and districts to fashion appropriate reforms and remedies in their schools.

I hope Mr. Obama has enough sense to listen to Ms. Ravitch; we who are about to die –in the trenches- salute you.

Regardless of impending disasters we will do our duty as in the Ypres Salient to the very end to the best of our ability.

Americans may not be accustomed to humiliation and disaster but we Munroes are so we carry on no matter what the situation.

“Burned our home , exile and death, scattered the loyal men…. But while there are leaves on the forest and foam on the river the Clan of the Halo River (Na Rothaich) will flourish bydan free, forever unconquered.

“Castles are sacked in war, chieftains are scattered far but Truth is a fix-ed star,