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Military Wit and Wisdom

picture for Veterans Day poppy

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who currently serve our nation in the armed services or who have ever served. Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day to celebrate the end of World War I and to honor those who served. In 1954 President Eisenhower's signature changed the name to Veterans Day and the purpose, to honor all veterans.

World War I (also called the Great War) has a special place in my heart. If it had not been for that war, my Grandpa Loach, a soldier boy from northwest Ohio, would never have met a pretty little French girl in Calais, France, and I would never have been born. Calais is not far from an area in France called Flanders. Many of you are familiar with the poem In Flanders Fields, by John McCrae (1919) and its famous first line "In Flanders fields the poppies grow...." I have seen and loved fields full of wild poppies (coquelicots) in that part of France. When I was growing up in NW Ohio, people sold artificial poppies for Veterans Day. I don't know if they still do since I've been gone from there at this time of year for over 40 years.

William Tecumseh Sherman is known for his quotation, "War is hell." I've never been in the military nor lived in a war-ravaged area, but I would imagine from what I've read that that is indeed the case. To combat the stress and difficulties of military life and war, many people in uniform have a great sense of humor. A sense of humor can bring you through a lot of bad situations. Today's iv is a list of quotations, some of which came to me unattributed, from military people.

"Aim towards the Enemy." – Instruction printed on US Rocket Launcher

"When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend." – US Marine Corps

"Cluster bombing from B-52s are very, very accurate. The bombs are guaranteed to always hit the ground." – USAF Ammo Troop

"If the enemy is in range, so are you." – Infantry Journal

"It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed." – US Air Force Manual

"Try to look unimportant; they may be low on ammo." – Infantry Journal

"A slipping gear could let your M203 grenade launcher fire when you least expect it. That would make you quite unpopular in what's left of your unit." – Army's magazine of preventive maintenance.

"You, you, and you ... Panic. The rest of you, come with me." – US Marine Corp Gunnery Sgt.

"Tracers work both ways." – US Army Ordnance

"Five second fuses only last three seconds." – Infantry Journal

"Bravery is being the only one who knows you're afraid." – Col. David Hackworth

"If your attack is going too well, you're walking into an ambush." – Infantry Journal

"Any ship can be a minesweeper ... once." – Anonymous

"Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do." – Unknown Marine Recruit

"Don't draw fire; it irritates the people around you." – Your Buddies

"The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire."

"Blue water Navy truism: There are more planes in the ocean than submarines in the sky." – From an old carrier sailor

"Never trade luck for skill."

"Mankind has a perfect record in aviation; we never left one up there!" (This does not apply, of course, to satellites, etc.)

"Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of understanding or doing anything about it."

"There is no reason to fly through a thunderstorm in peacetime." – Sign over squadron ops desk at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ,

"If you see a bomb technician running, follow him." – USAF Ammo Troop

Do any of you have any thoughts to add to the comments?


"Here's my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose." – Ronald Reagan

=^..^= =^..^=

There are three kinds of people. Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.

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13 Comments on “Military Wit and Wisdom”

  1. #1 Cathy Cockrell Lane
    on Nov 11th, 2010 at 11:17 am

    “In Flanders Field” is one of my mom’s favorite poems. She can recite the whole thing! I, too, have seen the poppies in Flanders Field. Very moving when you view it with the poem in mind. That entire area, with so many bunkers still visible, is a touching reminder of what happened there and how fortunate we are as a nation. God bless our veterans!

    Rob adds: Thanks, Cathy, for your comment. That’s neat that your mom can still quote that poem. One of my cousins thought I was cracked when I asked him to save seeds from some of those wild poppies and send them to me to try to grow here. He said they are a veritable weed there and he couldn’t figure out why I found them so beautiful. He sent me seeds, but the plants could not withstand our extreme summer heat and dryness — radically different from the weed’s native habitat in France. It was great to see them growing and flowering before they died, though.

    Here’s a picture of a field of poppies:

    picture of a coquelicots

    Here’s copy of Monet’s painting called Les Coquelicots:

    picture of a coquelicots

  2. #2 Vikki
    on Nov 11th, 2010 at 11:23 am

    These are great!! Thanx for sharing these with us!

    Rob adds: Glad you enjoyed them, Vikki.

  3. #3 Doodie Hutchison
    on Nov 11th, 2010 at 11:28 am

    “In Flanders Field” is one of my favorite poems; when my husband and I were students at BJU, we were asked to recite it and its reply by R. W. Lillard. I cannot think of one without the other.

    “America’s Answer”
    R.W. Lillard

    Rest ye in peace, ye Flanders dead
    The fight that you so bravely led
    We’ve taken up. And we will keep
    True faith with you who lie asleep,
    With each a cross to mark his bed,
    And poppies blowing overhead,
    When once his own life-blood ran red
    So let your rest be sweet and deep
    In Flanders Fields.

    Fear not that ye have died for naught;
    The torch ye threw to us we caught,
    Ten million hands will hold it high,
    And freedom’s light shall never die!
    We’ve learned the lesson that ye taught
    In Flanders’ fields.

    Rob adds: Thank you, Doodie. I can add nothing to that.

  4. #4 LeAnne Solt
    on Nov 11th, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I don’t know about Ohio, but where I grew up in Michigan they still sell poppies.

    Rob adds: Thanks, LeAnne! I didn’t know that. I wonder if it’s all over Michigan that they sell them.

  5. #5 Beth
    on Nov 11th, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    They call it Remembrance Day in Canada, and the poppies are readily available- normally for a donation.

    The school where I’m teaching here in NC is in a military town, and we chose to have school today- and get a long week-end instead. It was special to celebrate our veterans with an assembly – and have parents/family members present today. Thank you for your service to help us remain free. I’m thankful to be an American.

    Rob adds: Thanks, Beth. I have a Canadian-style Remembrance Day poppy that I wear each year at this time. (It looks exactly like the one at the beginning of this post.) My Canadian students are always shocked each year to see me with my poppy.

  6. #6 Jack Willer
    on Nov 11th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    When I was growing up in the 1930s, Armistice Day was a BIG holiday. As noted, World War I was not known by that name but was called “The World War” or “The Great War”. (It was not called WW I until World War II was clearly underway, about 1940.)
    We were told that “It was the war to end all wars”. The armistice, which this date commerorates, was signed on “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”.

    Rob adds: Thanks for your perspective, Jack. I really appreciate it.

  7. #7 JD
    on Nov 11th, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    “You’ve never been lost until you’ve been lost at Mach 3.” – Paul F. Crickmore (test pilot)

    Rob adds: 😀

  8. #8 Jessica Fager
    on Nov 11th, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Bonjour M. Loach,

    In Canada, veterans and cadets sell fake poppies for at least two weeks before Veteran’s Day (although here it’s called Remembrance Day). Do Americans generally not wear poppies?

    Rob adds: As I said in an earlier comment, my Canadian students are shocked that I have one, and many of my American students don’t know why I have one. So I’m guessing not.

  9. #9 Carrie
    on Nov 12th, 2010 at 2:06 am

    I remember buying poppies as a young person (in Michigan) but don’t remember seeing any for sale for a long time now.

    Rob adds: Thanks, Carrie.

  10. #10 Kathleen
    on Nov 12th, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Here in Britain, Remembrance Day is actually Remembrance Sunday. We wear poppies here as well, people usually start wearing them a couple weeks before.

    Every town, every village has a war memorial here. You drive through a tiny village, and there is a war memorial with 20 names on it. Men from the village would join together, and serve as a unit. If that unit was wiped out, that was all the men from the village gone. It was truly a devastating war for Britain. Another reminder is the forests. In nearly all of them, the trees are in straight rows, because they were replanted after the war. The country was deforested, because the wood was needed.

    It was really sobering, when we were in France, to visit so many of these battle sites. Verdun, Vimy Ridge, the Somme, the Normandy beaches, and the cemeteries. There are so many crosses that say “Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known unto God”. They are still today finding men who were reported as missing, and never returned. The people in France are still very grateful.

    Freedom isn’t free.

    Rob adds: Thanks for the British perspective, Kathleen. France “hosted” both wars, and war memorials there abound. We have also visited Verdun, where there’s an ossuary containing the bones of many soldiers they didn’t get to bury and where they are still finding huge, unexploded shells from WW I. The American cemetery and the Normandy beaches are grim reminders of the cost of freedom in WW II. Freedom is indeed not free.

  11. #11 Laura
    on Nov 12th, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I remember the poppies for sale when I was a little girl (in PA), but ever since we moved away (1984), I haven’t seen them anymore, either in MA or here in SC. It was a privilege to get to see those memorials with you on the “other side of the pond.” Maybe if the rest of America had a closer look at the cost of freedom, we’d have a Remembrance Day here that really meant something.

    Thank you to any veterans who stopped by to read the blog!

    Rob adds: It was a special privilege to have John Weeks guide us on those visits since he had been there as a soldier, shortly after D-Day.

  12. #12 deb :)
    on Nov 13th, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    I too am thankful that our Grandpa Loach was in that war, because I also would not be here if it was not for him meeting “Frenchie”! A cheek to cheek kiss to her, in loving remembrance. They do indeed still sell the poppies here in Fostoria, Ohio. lol Deb 🙂

    Rob adds: Thanks for your comment, Deb, and for the remembrance of Grandma. What a sweetie she was! I’m glad to hear they still sell the poppies up there.

  13. #13 Marilyn
    on Nov 15th, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Poppies are still sold and worn in Australia for ANZAC Day (April 25), Vietnam Veterans Day (August 18, commemorating the Battle of Long Tan – worst Aussie casualties in Vietnam), and Remembrance Day, November 11. I have poppies in several styles in my small collection.