An Image of Martial Discord

The Battle of Bunker Hill by Howard Pyle

The Battle of Bunker Hill by the fabulous Howard Pyle.

I’ve been tagged by History Guy for something called the “meme of seven”.

The rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog. Done.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird. See below.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs. No. But see below.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. N/A.
5. Present an image of martial discord from whatever period or situation you’d like. Done. See above.

Here are seven facts (including opinions in the guise of facts):

1. I was very stirred by the scene in the Battle of the Bulge where the young tank crewmen sing some German song to convince the cynical and battle-hardened commander Robert Shaw that they were ready to go fight the Americans. I was a really little kid at the time, maybe 8 years old. I understood that these guys were trying really hard to get into a fight where they were all going to die, which I found confusing and appealing, for some reason. I figured out that people fight and die for things they can sing about more than for things they can explain in words. I remember this all very clearly. I have seen nothing to change that conclusion since.

2. I’ll Probably Feel A Whole Lot Better When You’re Gone is the greatest pop song of all time … .

3. … Except on the days when SOS is the greatest pop song of all time.

4. During my first semester of law school I was tied for first in my class. That was my only noteworthy academic accomplishment, ever. I got lazy afterwards, but it didn’t matter. I probably drank more that semester than in the rest of law school put together, and I drank alone. I would study, go to Nick’s English Hut, get a shot of bourbon and a bottle of Harp, get buzzed, write a letter to someone, then go to my shack-like apartment and crash. I had no money, I charged everything, especially the booze, and paid the minimum each month and decided not to worry about it. The words “f*ck it” were audibly pronounced as I paid those minimums. I also did my own cooking, ate like a king, and got fat. Depression, loneliness, romantic disaster, fathomless consumer debt, severe weight gain and nascent alcoholism may not work for everybody, but they sure worked wonders for me.

5. I recently counted my books for the first time in many years. I’ve got about 3,600 around the place. No I haven’t read them all yet. But no worries. The unread ones are part of my grey knowledge, which makes it OK. Life is short. The book-pile is high, and getting higher.

6. The picture of Bunker Hill above is hanging in the upstairs hall at my house. Not the stolen original the FBI is looking for, but a copy. It is really a brilliant picture, and Pyle is under-rated.

7. I love the past more than the present or the future. But I don’t want to live there, or pretend that it can come back.

As to tagging seven people, I’d rather not. So, instead, I invite anyone to tell us (in the comments) of the most memorable or significant scene of “martial discord” you know of, either from first-hand experience, or in a literary, pictorial or cinematic depiction.

Note, Jonathan thought at first that the post said “marital discord”, which is pretty funny. Nope. Martial discord, i.e. pertaining to military conflict.

13 thoughts on “An Image of Martial Discord”

  1. Marital and martial discord have a great deal of overlap, in my experience.

    Ok, I’ll bite: Robert, what’s up with the “no comment” business ?

  2. I drank my first legal beer for lunch at Nick’s between classes on my birthday in 1968 — another era of martial discord. The other stuff including marital discord would follow, but I have nothing but fond memories of Nick’s and Ruthie the waitress. Good times.

  3. Jonathan thought at first that the post said “marital discord”
    Yep, me too.
    I even started reading the post.

  4. The band was an undergraduage phenomenon, then it arose again in my late 20s.

    Law school, after first year, I did some work, but also read about three history books a week. Other than the credit sink-hole, the words “good times, man” apply strongly to that era. But no band.

  5. by Robert Jenkins Onderdonk. This painting normally hangs in a hall of the Governor’s Mansion in Austin, but it was put into storage for the Mansion’s renovation. Thank goodness it was so that it was not lost in the last week’s arson fire which nearly destroyed the Mansion.

  6. Note being adept at HTML code, I screwed up the link in the previous post. The name of the painting to which the whole comment links is THE FALL OF THE ALAMO, and it was painted by Robert Jenkins Onderdonk.

  7. A couple of final points. While this painting may not be well known outside of Texas, it is famous within the Lone Star State. The man in the coon skin cap is, of course, Davey Crockett. He is using his flint lock as a club to fend off Santa Ana’s soldiers because the Alamo denfenders ran out of ammo.

  8. Regarding your first point, Lex, I’ve always thought the Germans have the best martial songs. (I make no suggestions as to why.) To speak the truth, I find the melody of the HORST-WESSEL-LIED (i.e. the Nazi “national anthem”), quite stirring, a typically German mixture of triumph and melancholy. Now, almost all music scholars believe Wessel stole the melody from a World War I German navy song, “Vorbei, vorbei sind all die schönen Stunden.” The lyrics, which Wessel did write, are, it goes without saying, totally repulsive, revolting, and evil. I find it providential that the German name of Wessel’s song forms a most appropriate sentence in English.

  9. Another former denizen of Nick’s! Frankly, it is the only part of the IU scene that I miss or go back to when I pass thru B-ton. Cheers!

  10. From youth this scene from Zulu had the longest lasting impression of a stand in face of impossible odds. However, that impression would eventually be displaced by the significance to our world with far greater consequences of this scene from Gettysburg. Faced with an impossible situation, the choice by a professor of rhetoric, on ‘sabbatical’ from Bowdoin College, on that day still brings a tear to the eye when he barks the order “bayonets”.

  11. Scotus, I think Jonathan fixed the link. Good picture of the last moments of Col. Crocket’s life. Agreed that the Germans wrote good war songs, a mixture of triumph and meloncholy is a good description. This exemplified by the song I linked to, the “Panzerlied”, where the lyrics say “my tank will be my grave”, etc. The same tune is used in the French Foreign Legion song “Kepi Blanc.”

    Carl, if you spent half an hour looking at ABBA videos, you get it!

    Eric, I also visit the Irish Lion, in addition to some people I know in Bloomington. Also the used book stores.

    Don, agreed. Rorke’s Drift was a stirring event. But Little Round Top was world-historic. Joshua Chamberlain was the Leonidas of American History. But for him, and his bayonet charge, the whole world might have gone down a different track.

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