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["Roses of Picardy" by Freddy Gardner plays, followed by a female voice:
It's The Mark Steyn Show. And now here's Mark.]
November the 11th, Armistice Day, as it is still known in the lands that provided the battlefields: France and Belgium, and to the people who paid the highest price, the Serbs, to whom we will come later in the show. In the British Commonwealth from the 30's onward, Armistice Day became Remembrance Day. In America in the 50's, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, to differentiate it from Memorial Day. The character of Memorial Day was shaped by the Civil War, the character of Remembrance Day was shaped by the First World War and we are conscious of that today, because Veterans Day, 2021, marks the centenary of the interment of The Unknown Soldier, in Arlington National Cemetery in the United States, and in the Commonwealth, Remembrance Day 2021 marks the centenary of the first Poppy Day. You might have seen me wearing mine on television this week, mine's from the Royal Canadian Legion, in Montreal, it's a little different from the one sold by the Royal British Legion, there are variations in design, in different parts of the Commonwealth, as you would expect, after 100 years.
This has been a terrible year for the United States Military. Half a century ago, John Kerry, speaking for the group, Vietnam Veterans Against the War taunted Congress, how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? Lots of countries get into wars by mistake; very few of them get out as chaotically and humiliatingly as the U.S got out of Afghanistan, so that you die, not for the original mistake, but in a grotesque sacrifice, imposed by a decadent and corrupt general staff as you're heading for the exits by the grace and favor of the Taliban. Like those poor Marines at Hamid Karzai International Airport, the survivors among whom will bear those terrible scars for the rest of their lives.
The American way of war doesn't work, I've said that for a decade now, and I regret that there are few takers on the American right for rethinking seriously all its cobwebbed assumptions, one consequence of that, is that in the course of this 21st century, the public has turned veterans into a kind of victim group, like abused children or women with breast cancer.
A decade ago I quoted Robert Kagan, so eminent a thinker, he's consulted by Romney and quoted by Obama, but don't hold either against him, Kagan wrote, "During the 7th inning stretch in every game at Yankee Stadium, the fans rise and offer a moment of silent prayer for the men and women who are stationed around the globe, defending freedom and our way of life, a tribute to those serving, yes, but with an unmistakable glint of pride in the nations role around the globe."
Really? I would say Mr. Kagan's mistaking that glint pretty comprehensively, those moments of prayer, and the we support our troops, yellow ribbon stickers and the priority boarding for military personal on U.S airlines, and the other genuflections are there to help a disillusioned citizenry distinguish between the valor of the soldiery and the thanklessness of their mission. It's a way of salvaging something decent and honorable from the grim 2/3's of a century roll call of America's un-won wars. That's more important than ever at the end of an especially rotten year but I have yet to meet a veteran who wouldn't give up all the yellow ribbons and the priority boarding and the seventh inning stretches just to have their war end in victory rather than the pitiful skedaddle from Afghanistan. They are warriors and they should be saluted as such. If the Russian critique of the British at Crimea was that they were lions led by donkeys, the Americans in this century's wars have been lions led by weasels.
This year at least we are permitted our usual observances. In my state of New Hampshire the big parade is back in our biggest city, Manchester, and so are all the small parades in our small towns. Across the Connecticut River in Vermont, I see that in Barre, the display of a large American flag on Veterans Day is now so contentious an issue it requires bitter debate and a vote by city councilors before it can go ahead.
In Justin Trudeau's zombie Dominion of Canada, where the national flags have been at half mast permanently for months in a vain effort to appease perpetual grievance mongers, many of us were wondering whether for Remembrance Day the Maple Leaf would be lowered to quarter mast or just left to trail along the ground, but apparently the plan is to raise the national flag to full mast and then lower it again for Remembrance Day. Canada is so post national it doesn't really need a national flag, does it?
South of the border, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff have decided that the Fall of Kabul is insufficient global humiliation and are determined on this Veterans Day to inflict new jests daily--ships named for gay anti militarists launched by transgender activists. This week at West Point the cadets were told that the principal national security threat is climate change, so come the next Saigon, the next Kabul, the helicopter on the roof's gonna be taking off for Mars or some such. Lions led by weasels and jackals, but on this day especially, lions none the less.
["Keep the Home Fires Burning" plays]
[Woman's voice] Mark Steyn's Poem of the Week.
Today's poem I recited live on the Mark Steyn Cruise to mark the centenary of the Armistice, November 11, 1918 and we revisit it now in tribute to its remarkable influence. This Remembrance Day is the hundredth anniversary of the first poppies, the stylized red paper or plastic flowers you see on the lapels of old soldiers and young citizens today on the streets of Britain and the Commonwealth. In other words, within just three years of the end of the war, this poem had provided the enduring image of that war.
In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent after the most catastrophic war in history. The numbers are almost unbelievable. Britain lost 1.1 million men, France 1.3 million. I mentioned on Tales for Our Time during our serialization of John Buchan's Greenmantle, that Serbia lost over a quarter of its entire population, about 60 percent of its men in the course of the Great War. Aside from anything else, that devastation of a generation of young men had cultural consequences that lingered for decades. Certain types became stock figures and plays and in novels. Everybody had spinster aunts, just because the men they would have married were dead. All the continental empires fell, the Turkish empire, the Russian empire, the German, the Austrian, and in the vacuum caused by their disappearance incubated all the great horrors of the next half century—communism, fascism, Nazism. We all live in the rubble of the Great War.
When I was a child most of the poems we learned in school from those years were by the anti war fellows.
"Good-morning, good-morning!" the General said
When we met him last week on our way to the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of 'em dead,
And we're cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
That's Siegfried Sassoon quoted from memory, because I still have tons and tons of that stuff lodged in my head, but the poem we're going to do today is quite different, it's the best known Canadian poem ever and it is the great poem to come out of the Great War. It's by Lt. Col. John McCrae, a surgeon and a soldier from Guelph, Ontario.
As a soldier he had served in the Boer War in South Africa. As a doctor he was the resident pathologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, where my children were born and he also taught pathology just south of the border at the University of Vermont in Burlington. And so he enlisted when the war started. He found himself at the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium, or Wipers as the English and Canadians used to call it. That was an awful battle that included one of the first chemical attacks in the history of warfare. The Germans used chlorine gas and if you know what that can do to you it's not something you want to be facing in the course of trench warfare on a still day on a Flemish plain.
It began on April 22 and the Canadian line held in the face of that chlorine gas attack for two weeks. John McCrae wrote to his mother: "For 17 days and 17 nights none of us have had our clothes off nor our boots even. In all that time while I was awake, gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for 60 seconds and behind it all was the constant background of the sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed and the terrible anxiety less the line should give way."
On May 2 he saw his friend Lt. Alexis Helmer die and shortly after conducted his burial service and he noted that already just in the 17 days they had been burying their comrades, how quickly the poppies were growing around the graves. Poppies have been associated with warfare for over 300 years now. I think the earliest description was Macaulay's of the Belgian soil in 1694, a year after the Battle of Landen in the Nine Years War. Macaulay wrote: "The soil fertilized by 20,000 corpses broke forth into millions of poppies. The traveler who on the road from St. Tron to Tiremont, saw that vast sheet of rich scarlet spreading from Landen to Neerwiden could hardly help fancying that the figurative prediction of the Hebrew prophet [That's Isaiah he's referring to.] the Hebrew prophet was literally accomplished, that the earth was disclosing her blood and refusing to cover the slain."
And since then everyone has understood that poppies grow around the graves where soldiers are buried but Ypres was different because of all these new forms of warfare. The particular intensity of the explosives, the use of chemical gas and thus the nature of the soil changed. There was more lime in it and so the poppies were able to dominate and grow even faster. And then of course there was the particular scale of the slaughter. On that Mark Steyn Cruise we had among our number some veterans bearing some terrible injuries from the wars of this century. Here's what I had to say in port near the Royal Naval Dockyard, long time home port of the Royal Canadian Navy and before that the Royal Navy at Halifax, Nova Scotia.
[Clip of Mark from Halifax]
"McRae's poem touches them for that reason, because it encompasses both the human side and the honorable side of warfare. And we have among or party we have some veterans and we have men who have been injured in appalling ways in horrible conflicts far from home. And as the years go by and their lives are changed by injuries born in an instant, thousands of miles away on some worthless bi of sod they couldn't care less about and has nothing to do with their daily lives. Each man must surely think about that moment, about the things that might have gone differently if they'd gone three yards this way, if they'd gone 10 yards that way, if they'd if they moved 15 seconds later or 15 seconds earlier. All those what if things that happen when there's some great life shattering moment that changes everything forever. That's not what it was in the wars on the Western Front in Europe between 1914 and 1918. It was the certainty of mass slaughter that the minute they shouted for you to scramble over the top of the trench that you knew that many of your friends you would not be seeing again.
And the day after he buried his friend Alexis Helmer, and noted those poppies already springing up around the graves, he sat on the back of an ambulance, John McRae, on May 3, 1915 and he wrote this marvelous, great, enduring poem from the Great War.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
That was the poem by Lt. Col. John McRae. In January 1918, near Boulogne in France he contracted pneumonia and died as many of the Canadians here will know, he's buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery there at Wimereux. So 2018 is not just the centenary of that first Armistice, but also the centenary of the death of the man who gave us the defining image for honoring the sacrifice of men in battle in dozens of countries around the world. I was once on this very cruise ship and we put into Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos just before Remembrance Day one November, and I went into town and there were people getting ready with the poppies and getting ready for Remembrance Day there. We wear the poppy because John McRae's poem made the poppy the symbol for men fallen in battle around the world. The poppies that bloom where men fall in battle and challenge us, as John McCrae wrote. "If ye break faith with us who die."
It is a great poem, it is the best known of all Canadian poems and John McCrae was not a poet, he was a soldier and a surgeon and he gave us a marvelous poem that touches the lives of soldiers all around the world and that has endured on this one hundredth anniversary of the Armistice of the First World War, that poem has endured for a century. Thank you very much indeed, thank you.
[Female voice: "Keep up to date with the past on the 100 Years Ago Show, with Mark Steyn"]
An American soldier comes home, in Flanders fields and far beyond the poppies blow, and peace breaks out between the U.S. and Germany; it's Armistice Day 1921.
On this Armistice Day, America and Germany are finally at peace. To mark the third anniversary at the end of the war, Washington and Berlin have exchange their formal ratifications of the peace treaty agreed earlier this year.
["The Star Spangled Banner" plays]
Until today only the bodies of presidents had lain in state in the central rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington but November 11 dawned with the signal honor conferred on a man whose name we shall never know. A year after Great Britain and France entombed their unknown warriors at Westminster Abbey and the Arc de Triomphe respectively, America has brought home the remains of its own anonymous soldier. Chosen as we reported last month by Sgt. Edward Younger from four unidentified coffins in France. This morning the Unknown Soldier was borne by horse drawn caisson in solemn procession across the Potomac to Arlington to rest in the low Virginia hills, where America's heroes are honored. Accompanying the flag draped casket on the final leg of a long journey were three presidents—Harding, Wilson, Taft and distinguished comrades. Supreme Allied Commander Marshal Foch of France, America's General Pershing, Britain's First Sea Lord Admiral Beatty. World leaders were also in attendance. The French premier Monsieur Briand; the Lord President of the British Privy Council, Mr. Balfour. Japan's Prince Tokugawa, hailed by The New York Times as the last of the Shoguns.
["Nearer My God to Thee" plays]
Though like the wanderer,
The sun gone down,
Darkness be over me,
My rest a stone,
Yet in my dreams I'd be
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee!
At Arlington the Unknown Soldier was placed on the catafalque at a site designed to be equivalent to that of the Arc de Triomphe and looking over the Potomac to the Capitol and the Washington Monument. A war bonnet was laid by the chief of the Crow Nation and wreathes by representatives of the American War Mothers and the British War Mothers. Just as Britain's Unknown Warrior was presented with the U.S. Medal of Honor, so Admiral Beatty and the Earl of Cavan, the general who inflicted final defeat on the Austro Hungarian Army, conferred upon America's Unknown Soldier on behalf of King George V, the British Empire's highest award, the Victoria Cross. The marble sarcophagus was then dedicated by the president of the United States.
"We are met today to pay the impersonal tribute," Mr. Harding told the assembled dignitaries."The name of him whose body lies before us took flight with his imperishable soul. We know not whence he came, but only that his death marks him with the everlasting glory of an American dying for his country. He might have come from any one of millions of American homes. Some mother gave him in her love and tenderness, and with him her most cherished hopes. Hundreds of mothers are wondering today, finding a touch of solace in the possibility that the nation bows in grief over the body of one she bore to live and die, if need be, for the Republic. If we give rein to fancy, a score of sympathetic chords are touched, for in this body there once glowed the soul of an American...."
["Lead Kindly Light" plays]
Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom
Lead thou me on
The night is dark, and I am far from home
Lead thou me on
Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see
The distant scene, one step enough for me
President Harding's speech was broadcast via telephone line to auditoriums in New York and San Francisco. Afterwards, the British Empire delegation announced the stately and impressive symbolism of America's mourning for her sons and daughters, dead in the cause of liberty, has deeply moved the hearts of their British comrades in the Great War. It is a worthy prelude to the labors of the conference which begins tomorrow. That is a reference to the Washington Disarmament Conference hosted by President Harding with representatives of Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan and China, meeting to halt the arms race, already under way among the world's powers.
Madame Guérin has been a schoolteacher in Madagascar, a lecturer in the British Isles and in America, after her promotions of the Red Cross and U.S. War Bonds, was hailed as the greatest of all speakers on behalf of the American war effort. Last year, invited to address the American Legion convention in Cleveland, she came up with the idea of an interallied poppy day, inspired by the poppies in the popular Canadian poem by the late John McCrae, "In Flanders Fields." Her notion was to sell silk poppies to benefit the hundreds of thousands of France's war widows and orphans. The American Legion christened Madame Guérin "The Poppy Lady from France" and the idea spread. The Poppy Lady traveled to Port Arthur, Ontario and persuaded the Great War Veterans Association of Canada to adopt it, and then she went on to Liverpool and the British Legion, to similar success. The silk poppies made in France by what the London papers described as "French peasants" have arrived in every American state and throughout the British Empire. New Zealand ordered 350,000 poppies but the ship bringing them is too late for this year's observances.
And that's the way of the world, Armistice Day 1921.
I'm usually far from the city on Veterans Day but a year or two before the COVID hit I spent November 10 on TV in New York with a whole lot of veterans, plus a young lady whose father had died in Iraq in 2006. She is rightly proud of the dad she lost when she was barely old enough to know him and he would certainly be very proud of the way his young daughter has turned out, but I wonder more and more whether our society is worthy of the terrible sacrifices of so very few. We're told that the generals do not want mass conscription, they prefer a self selecting professional soldiery, but then these are the same generals who haven't won any wars. Conscription of the citizenry at large is unpopular but perhaps for that very reason it enforces more strategic clarity among the high command.
As I said earlier, I have particular contempt for the buffoons of the Pentagon, the lobbyists in waiting running a money no object operation that has everything except strategic purpose. But that broader point about the citizenry and the soldiery I have been making a long time. From my book The Face of the Tiger, here is an excerpt from what I wrote on the first November 11th after September 11, 2001, 20 years ago.
[Excerpt from The Face of the Tiger begins.]
"Evidently the public has made a connection between September 11 and November 11, though no one seems quite sure what it is, a general expression of solidarity with the victims or a renewed respect for the men who gave their lives so we could get fat and complacent and read celebrity features about Britney? This year President Bush has declared the week of Veterans Day to be National Veterans Awareness Week, which is just a terrible name and makes America's Armed Forces sound like a disease ("National Breast Cancer Awareness Week"). He's also announced an initiative to get every school in the week ahead to invite a veteran to come and speak to students. A fine idea but one likely to run into problems in a culture where not just tony bastions like Harvard but many less elevated outlets of academe decline to permit the ROTC on campus. When Ox Bow High School in the small North Country town of Bradford, Vermont mooted a JROTC program, the proposal was quickly shot down by the usual activists protesting JROTC's policies on gays. JROTC doesn't have any policy on gays, that's the problem. "Being a teenager," said one middle-aged, graying, hippie dippy Vermonter, "is not about wearing a uniform and fitting in, it's about standing up and declaring who you are." There speaks the voice of the eternal adolescent boomer in all its woeful self absorption.
Actually most Americans are already "aware" of their veterans, it's the elites who need reminding--like the chaps at The New York Times and other big papers who carry by my estimation, less than a tenth of the military obituaries Britain's Daily Telegraph does. True, NBC star anchor, Tom Brokaw, has found himself a lucrative franchise cranking out books about "The Greatest Generation," the World War II generation, but Brokaw's designation is absurd and essentially self serving. The youthful Americans who went off to war 60 years ago would have thought it ridiculous to be hailed as "the greatest." They were unexceptional, they did no more or less than their own parents and grandparents had done. Like young men across the world, they accepted soldiering has an obligation of citizenship, as men have for centuries. In 1941 it would have astonished them to be told they would be the last generation to accept that basic social compact. They understood that there are moments in a nation's history when even being a teenager is about standing up and declaring who you are by wearing a uniform. When we their children and grandchildren ennoble them as "the greatest" and elevate them into something extraordinary, it conveniently absolves us of rising to their level.
So for many of us sacrifice is all but incomprehensible. Responding to Robert Putnam's recollections of civic community in World War II, 'victory gardens in nearly everyone's backyard, the Boy Scouts at filling stations collecting floor mats for scrap rubber, the affordable war bonds, the practice of giving rides to hitchhiking soldiers and war workers"—Katha Pollitt in the current edition of The Nation sneers: "Those would be certified heterosexual, Supreme-Being believing scouts, I suppose, and certified harmless and chivalrous hitchhiking GIs too, not some weirdo in uniform who cuts you to bits on a dark road." Somehow I don't think poor, paranoid Ms. Pollitt has met that many fellows in uniform, weirdoes or otherwise.
To the broader constituency for which Katha speaks, those guys in uniform are weirdoes, not because they want to cut her to bits but because they're willing to go and slog it out on some foreign hillside, getting limbs blown off by grenades, blinded by shrapnel, and for no other reason than something so risible as love of country.
Today across the Western world, the generals dislike conscript armies. They want light, highly trained, professional regiments. But it's hard not to feel that end of the draft, the end of routine military service, has somehow weakened the bonds of citizenship. Citizenship is about allegiance, we benefit from our rights as citizens of the state and in return we accept our duties as citizens of the state. Until the day before yesterday, farmers went to war, accountants went to war, busboys went to war. Now only soldiers go to war."
[End of excerpt from The Face of the Tiger.]
I wrote that 20 years ago and as a guy who never wore any uniform other than the badly patched First World War uniform—reconditioned--of the combined cadet force in my teenage years, I still feel the outsourcing of war by the entire nation to a very small sliver of its populace imposes a very cruel burden.
[Woman's voice: "And now Steyn Online presents Mark Steyn's Song of the Week."]
Well a lot of listeners have found the last year or more very depressing, so I thought we could use a chin up song, perk you up a bit. This is a young lady I first met when she was a baby, baby Eliza, about 8-months-old or some such. She's the daughter of John Caird, co director of Les Miserables and Francis Ruffelle, who starred in the original West End production of the show and is a marvelous actress and singer.
And then one day I flew into Heathrow and my driver switched on the radio as we headed downtown and I discovered baby Eliza was now a pop star.
["Pack up" by Eliza Doolittle plays]
Wait a minute, wait a minute, pack up your troubles in your old kit bag? That's right, a top 5 hit in the United Kingdom, number 1 in Belgium but only in Flanders, not the francophone cartier. A big hit all over Europe, uses the title line of the British Tommies' great marching off to war song from a century earlier, and turns it into a new millennium pop song hook, and as a result the family of two-long dead brothers received a rather substantial royalties boost.
If November 11, Armistice Day, is the way the Great War ended, pack up your troubles is not quite the way it began but pretty close. In 1915, a competition was held in Britain to find "the most morale boosting song" and a pair of siblings decided to enter. Felix Powell wrote the music and his brother George, writing under the name George Asaf, supplied the words. Their song wound up winning and pretty soon the whole nation and much of the Empire was singing along.
["Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag" plays]
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag
And smile, smile, smile,
While you've a Lucifer to light your fag,
Smile, boys, that's the style.
What's the use of worrying?
It never was worth while
So pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag
And smile, smile, smile.
Mark: Well that lyric is little more than a cheery title interrupted by what to American ears may be a startling image, "While there's a Lucifer to light your fag." A Lucifer was a popular brand of match and a fag remains British slang for cigarette, which only doubles the song's sins, it's not just pro-war it's pro-smoking. Still it was a blockbuster hit in 1915.
Not necessarily what I'd want to hear as I was marching off to the hell of trench warfare and poison gas on the Western Front. It was hailed as "the most optimistic song ever written," although by the end of his life its composer found it hard to live up to its hearty injunction.
Two decades after "the War to End All Wars," Felix Powell found himself serving in its sequel, World War II. As an old soldier in the Peace Haven Home Guard in Sussex. The Home Guard were local reserve militias staffed by those too old or infirm to be sent overseas. Google Dad's Army, you won't regret it. And in 1942, the composer of the most optimistic song ever written put on his uniform, loaded his rifle, and committed suicide.
And if you know the fate of Felix Powell, it gives an unintended poignancy to such a good natured sing along. "Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile." That's what Jim Radford did over three quarters of a century ago. He was as far as can be determined, the youngest man to participate in the Allied invasion of Normandy. By man, I mean that on D-Day, June 6, 1944, he was 15-years-old and for the seventieth anniversary observances, 85-year-old Jim was invited onto the stage of the Royal Albert Hall in London to reminisce in music about that day.
Announcer: "Tonight we are honored to have a veteran of the Normandy invasion with us on stage. He was a crew member of a ship that set sail on June 6 and at 15 he must've been one of the youngest there, so please welcome Jim Radford. [Applause] Jim, how do you feel today seeing us all gathered and remembering these events?"
Jim: "Contrasting emotions I think, glad and sad. I'm glad that I survived and had 70 years of a good life and I'm very sad every time I think of D-Day and all the poor devils who never made it back and that's who I'm thinking about on this day and every year."
Mark: After the war Jim Radford became a folk singer and at that D-Day seventieth anniversary gala at the Albert Hall he sang the first song he ever wrote.
In the cold grey light of the sixth of June,
In the year of forty-four,
The Empire Larch sailed out from Poole to join with thousands more.
The largest fleet the world had seen, we sailed in close array,
And we set our course for Normandy at the dawning of the day.
There was not one man in all our crew but knew what lay in store,
For we had waited for that day through five long years of war.
We knew that many would not return, but all our hearts were true,
For we were bound for Normandy, where we had a job to do.
Now the Empire Larch was a deep-sea tug with a crew of thirty-three,
And I was just the galley-boy on my first trip to sea.
I little thought when I left home of the dreadful sights I'd see,
But I came to manhood on the day that I first saw Normandy.
At Arromanches, off the Beach of Gold,
'Neath the rockets' deadly glare,
We towed our block ships into place and we built a harbour there.
'Mid shot and shell we built it well, as history does agree,
While brave men died in the swirling tide on the shores of Normandy.
For every hero's name that's known, a thousand died as well.
On stakes and wires their bodies hung, rocked in the ocean swell;
And many a mother wept that day for the sons they loved so well,
Men who cracked a joke and cadged a smoke
As they stormed the gates of hell.
As the years pass by, I can still recall the men I saw that day
Who died upon that blood-soaked sand where now sweet children play;
And those of you who were unborn, who've lived in liberty,
Remember those who made it so on the shores of Normandy.
Mark: Men who cracked a joke and cadged a smoke as they stormed the gates of hell. It's not the greatest tune but that is a sharp and vivid couplet, full of life, as those men storming hell that dawn surely were. And among them was a 15-year-old boy who was a 15-year-old man. He survived D-Day but not COVID-19 and he died of the Chinese coronavirus at the age of 92, the youngest known member of the Allied invasion force on June 6, 1944, Jim Radford.
That song, "The Shores of Normandy" hit number one on the Amazon download chart on the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019.
My favorite song of the Great War, as many of you know, is "Roses of Picardy." I love the English lyric by Fred Weatherly, and the first French lyric by Pierre d'Amor and the second French lyric by Eddy Marnay and I've sung all three with my friend Monique Fauteux. But I don't feel we can really follow those words by Jim Radford and I would rather close without words at all and with "Roses of Picardy's" marvelous tune by Haydn Wood. Ernest Tomlinson conducts the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra. Don't just thank a veteran, ask him where he served, what he did, he will have stories to share. And wherever you are have a meaningful Veteran's Day-Remembrance Day-Armistice Day.
Stay safe, stay free.
[Join us next time for another edition of the Mark Steyn Show. The Mark Steyn Show is a production of Mark Steyn Enterprises and Oak Hill Media. All rights reserved.]