This is the gulf. They just don’t get it.

On Saturday I said that the gulf between Gen. John Kelly and his detractors was just “too wide to bridge“.  Yesterday the Wall Street Journal republished an account by Gen. Kelly of the death of two Marines.  I think it amply illustrates the breadth and depth of that gulf.

You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. Putting myself in their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: “let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” The two Marines had about five seconds left to live.

. . .

In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one second left to live.

The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God. Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty—into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight—for you. 

There’s more at the link.  You should read it all.

I’ll let the late President Reagan sum it up.  He was speaking of Marines, but his words apply to all US servicemen at a time like this.

And that’s what Gen. Kelly’s detractors cannot and will never understand – because they don’t know the meaning of sacrifice, and have never put anyone else’s lives ahead of their own in that ultimately self-sacrificial way.



  1. No, they dont get it, they are incapable. What little happens in the way of gratitude is only due to it being coerced from them.

    They look down on the poor, naive, uneducated men and women who join as some sort of simple fools who had no other future. The only values They have are greed and selfishness and anyone who doesnt share that must be a fool.

  2. Sunday "after-Church" dinner…
    Seated across from me was my Dad's older brother, survivor of the sinking of the West Virginia in Pearl Harbor.
    Near him sat my Uncle George, a Conscientious Objector who, at the start of the war, joined the Army knowing he'd probably end up being a medic. He was aboard a glider with the 101st Airborne on D-Day when the aircraft crashed, broke his ankle and spent the rest of the war in a German P.O.W. camp.
    My Father, an Army Sergeant, received the Purple Heart after losing a chunk of his left heel in the Philippines.
    This was my weekly history lesson.
    Kids today don't know much about history.

  3. I have a friend that was in Viet Nam during the Tet offensive. While he told few about the experience, he told me, and it only reinforced my admiration. He served, put his life on the line, and managed to return home to many that would have spit on him, when he departed the plane.

    We're honored by those in the military. To kneel, insult the flag, and refuse to understand what it means, is foolishness based on ignorance.

  4. It seems to me that progressives, etc. are sure that they already KNOW what's best.
    And if we can't understand that, well… we're deplorable for a reason, aren't we?

    I like Camille Paglia's words on a similar subject :

    “What has happened is these young people now getting to college have no sense of history – of any kind! No sense of history. No world geography. No sense of the violence and the barbarities of history.

    So, they think that the whole world has always been like this, a kind of nice, comfortable world where you can go to the store and get orange juice and milk, and you can turn on the water and the hot water comes out.

    They have no sense whatever of the destruction, of the great civilizations that rose and fell, and so on – and how arrogant people get when they’re in a comfortable civilization.

    They now have been taught to look around them to see defects in America – which is the freest country in the history of the world – and to feel that somehow America is the source of all evil in the universe, and it’s because they’ve never been exposed to the actual evil of the history of humanity. They know nothing!”

    Although I didn't appreciate it at the time, I'm lucky that most of my teachers were rough ol' cobs, most of them WW2 vets, who didn't have to take any backtalk from us.

    – Charlie

  5. Hey Peter;

    The left don't understand the notions of self sacrifice and loyalty and they deride this notion and when I try to explain it, I was mocked. The divide is getting too large and I don't know what will put it back together.

  6. Nope, they cannot comprehend, nor do they WANT TO… dammit

    That's the problem.

    The gulf comes because of people who don't want to know even intellectually to the extent that is possible because they think there is nothing they need to know.

    I remember that speech of General Kelly's. He gave it four days after his son was killed in action and when I read it again in the WSJ I remembered its visceral impact.

    I never served in the military. I had a history of major local reactions to beestings when I was a small child, and underwent many years of a of allergy shots, only to experience an anaphylactic reaction to a sting in my teens. (That was before the EpiPen though my pediatrician wrote a scrip for epinephrine in vials and a syringe, taught me how to fill the syringe and inject myself and I had a carrying case made…)

    My Viet Nam era draft board said that with that history I was probably not fit to serve but suggested that since I was in college, that I apply for a student deferment and revisit the issue later if needed. As it turned out, my number didn't come up in the lottery.

    But this civilian reads. I understand I don't have the visceral experience of military service, but I read. I read history, ancient and modern. I read memoirs. I read fiction. I've paid attention to veterans I've met, and realized that the career and retired military men and women I met were often very smart and very interesting.

    Over the years, I've come to the conclusion that if some field of human endeavor has engaged the full efforts of brave and often very intelligent people for all of recorded human history, it's worth paying attention to and the students of that endeavor should not be dismissed.

    And when I heard General Kelly give that speech I tried to put myself in the boots of those two Marines and I knew I couldn't fill them.

    Or, to give another example, one of my personal heroes: Withold Pilecki.

    "During World War II, he volunteered for a Polish resistance operation that involved being imprisoned in the Auschwitz death camp in order to gather intelligence and later escape. While in the camp, Pilecki organized a resistance movement and, as early as 1941, informed the Western Allies of Nazi Germany's Auschwitz atrocities. He escaped from the camp in 1943 after nearly two and a half years of imprisonment. Pilecki took part as a combatant in the Warsaw Uprising in August–October 1944. He remained loyal to the London-based Polish government-in-exile after the Soviet-backed communist takeover of Poland and was arrested for espionage in 1947 by the Stalinist secret police (Urząd Bezpieczeństwa) on charges of working for "foreign imperialism", thought to be a euphemism for British Intelligence. He was executed after a show trial in 1948."

  7. Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. The fact that we don't teach it any more, puts America at risk.
    But fortunately there are still a lot of people who take history, the Constitution, etcetera, that hopefully can keep America safe.

  8. That clip reminds of just how excellent a communicator Ronald Reagan was.
    A fundamentally decent man. A rare example of the rare elegance that
    humanity on occasion can demonstrate.

  9. What's even more telling- General Kelly's own son had died in combat about a week before he made that speech- and he never once spoke of his own, personal, loss.

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