Monday, November 11, 2019

Veterans Day remembrance and pride

This Veterans Day I wanted to share a bit of insight about what it is to be a warrior. I'm proud of the fact that I have served my country and became Brothers in Arms with so many.

It may not be the first coining of the phrase, but this passage from over 400 years ago, the St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V, by William Shakespeare, brings me to tears nearly every time I read it. On one hand, it is a sales pitch from a king trying to arouse patriotism and courage in his few and fearful men. On the other hand, it is a very motivating speech that reaches into the core of a warrior's soul and emphasizes the pride of having been there. I hope you enjoy it.

(From William Shakespeare's Henry V, ca.1600, 4:3:18-64)

WESTMORLAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What's he that wishes so?
My cousin, Westmorland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enough
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmorland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say "To-morrow is Saint Crispian."
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say "These wounds I had on Crispin's day."
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words—
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester—
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember├Ęd—
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 accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Here, Kenneth Branagh delivers perfection in his 1989 production, while Laurence Olivier is shown below as he stunned his audience in 1944.

Laurence Olivier

More worthwhile links:
Henry V: The Fictionalized King (essay by Sarah Kay Bierle).
This, a more formal, yet non-credited article, cites how vastly outnumbered the English were as it examines leadership lessons in the speech.

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