The Red Poppy

In 1915, a Canadian medical officer named John McCrae published what is probably the single best-known and popular poem from the First World War, “In Flanders Fields”:

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.

After reading this poem Moina Michael, a college teacher and YMCA War Worker, was so moved that she was inspired to write a response. Hastily written on the back of an envelope, she penned the lines to We Shall Keep the Faith:

Continue reading The Red Poppy

The Not-So-Fine Print:
Duty, Obligation, and the Military Enlistment Contract

In his recent Tech Central Station column, former Army officer and Desert Storm vet James Joyner implies that military members are somehow being misled about their contractual agreements:

The dirty little secret of military recruiters is that, regardless of the length of the initial active duty contract, everyone who joins the military incurs an eight-year obligation under Section 10145 of 10 USC. This fact is buried in the long enlistment contract and certainly not emphasized by recruiters, who are under heavy pressure to meet monthly quotas.

Except for the part about recruiters being under heavy pressure, Joyner couldn ‘

Not Peace, But A Sword:
An Open Letter to Liberal Evangelicals

[Note: I’m about to go off on a rant. It doesn’t happen often so I hope that you will simply ignore this while I get a few things off my chest. I recommend skipping this post entirely and checking back when my moral outrage has subsided.]
A recent action by the U.S.military appears to have rankled many of my fellow Christians. Chuck Corrie says that hearing the news made his blood pressure go up while Canadian blogger Bene lists numerous reasons the decision made was wrong. What heinous act do they find so disturbing? The military giving our troops Bibles.
Yes, my fellow Christians are disturbed that people are receiving Bibles.
Apparently, some people are shocked to find that the government provides Bibles (as well as copies of the Koran and Torah) to military personnel. Although religious materials have been provided by the government since the inception of the Chaplaincy ‘

Band of Brothers


Pearl Harbor survivor Houston James embraces Marine Staff Sgt. Mark Graunke Jr. during a Veterans Day commemoration in Dallas. Graunke, a member of a Marine ordnance-disposal team, lost a hand, leg, and eye while defusing a bomb in Iraq in July of last year. (Photo by Jim Mahoney/Dallas Morning News)
Just wanted to provide a reminder that for some people, every day is veteran’s day.

The Moral Power of a Military:
Torture, Virtue Ethics, and the German Army

The German press is reporting that twenty noncommissioned officers and one captain of the German army are being investigated for using violent training tactics that included electric shocks, physical abuse and psychological intimidation on around 80 recruits between June and September:

Spiegel newsmagazine reported Monday that in four instances on the training grounds in Coesfeld, a small town in northern Germany, the officers dressed themselves up as Arabs, ambushed the recruits during a night march, bound and hooded them and then transported them in trucks to a basement in the barracks.
There the recruits were forced to kneel against the wall, where they were roughed up and drenched with cold water. At least two of the victims received electric shocks in the throat, groin and stomach area from a loud-speaker cable, according to Spiegel.

While any reports of such abuse are disturbing, I find it particularly troubling that the event occurred during initial training, a period when professionalism and soldierly virtue are inculcated in the impressionable recruits. Military units are hermetically sealed cultures that, when at their best, have a moral core that is comprised of a unique blend of deontological and virtue ethics. Although the deontological side, with its emphasis on regulations and discipline, is the most commonly associated with the military, it is the honing of virtue ethics that creates a moral institution.
By cultivating specific virtues such as courage, discipline, and honor, a military shores up the natural moral law which lies in the hearts of its members. But hazing ‘

The Truth About the Draft

Several bloggers have pointed out that an email is circulating on college campuses advising young men and women that President Bush is planning to reinstate military conscription:

Mandatory draft for boys and girls (ages18-26) starting June 15, 2005
There is pending legislation in the House and Senate, S89 and HR 163,to reinstate mandatory draft for boys and girls (ages18-26) starting June 15, 2005. This plan includes women in the draft, eliminates higher education as a shelter, and makes it difficult to cross into Canada.

While I don ‘