QOTD: Rudyard Kipling on Vietnam

 

“Not forgotten: 44 years since Vietnam. Kipling’s ‘Tommy‘ says it all.” My friend Susan sent this thought-provoking message and it prompted me to think of Rudyard Kipling’s very sad poem about how veterans are regarded as heroes when the shooting starts and then are promptly discarded like an old shoe when they are no longer needed. I had not seen that poem in quite a while and thought it might make a good counterpoint to the message about our Vietnam Veterans. I hope you find it as meaningful and tragically insightful as I did, especially in this time of the worst ignominy this Great Nation has just suffered at the hands of the most dangerously incompetent group of “government” “leaders” in our history.

Tommy, by Rudyard Kipling, 1890

I WENT into a public ‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, ” We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, go away ” ;
But it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, wait outside “;
But it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap.
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul? “
But it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes ” when the drums begin to roll
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes, ” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, fall be’ind,”
But it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! “
But it’s ” Saviour of ‘is country ” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An ‘Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!

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  1. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Hey Jim, 

         Yeah, I’m very familiar with Kipling’s poem.  I read it in high school, but never thought that I’d be living it.  Thanks for posting.

    CACrabtree

    Vietnam Oct 66 – Nov 67

     

    P.S.  I did a little post on my Vietnam experience back in March of last year.  You might be interested in it.

    • #1
  2. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    The Vietnam/Afghanistan comparisons are particularly apt.  In both instances, the American military was hamstrung by political considerations and their enemies were provided untouchable safe havens in neighboring countries.    Too much ‘hearts and minds’ not enough Al Davis “Just win, baby!“

    ‘Unconditional Surrender’ Biden features in the ending of Vietnam just as he did in Afghanistan.   As a freshman Senator in 1975 he was a vehement opponent of allocating additional funds to Vietnam (Ford had asked for an additional 300 million).  He saw Vietnam as a lost cause and wanted out ASAP.

    Two weeks before Saigon fell in April 1975, a 32-year-old Joe Biden was among the senators summoned to the White House for a top-secret briefing on the crisis in Vietnam.

    Though just a freshman, Biden gave the president a clear message: The situation in Vietnam was hopeless, and the United States should leave as quickly as possible, according to a column by Rowland Evans and Robert Novak at the time that described Biden’s interactions with then-President Gerald Ford.

    Other senators who supported Biden at the time were taken aback by their young colleague’s “didactic performance,” the columnists wrote.

    Nearly half a century later, Biden’s attitude toward the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has been strikingly similar — even as events echo the frantic evacuation of Americans and those who helped them in South Vietnam.

    Its a sad commentary on the political bias of the media… but given the uncomfortable parallels, I’m not surprised it got short shrift by the MSM.

    The other disturbing/disgusting scene played out over and over again across the 20th anniversary of 9/11 was the steady stream of lefty politico’s lionising the NYPD officers among the dead.   The same politicos spent the summer haranguing us about the systemic racism endemic to police forces everywhere and called for their defunding.    But over the weekend, the police were heroes.   Today, I’m sure they are evil racists again.

    Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul? “
    But it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes ” when the drums begin to roll

    • #2
  3. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    The Vietnam/Afghanistan comparisons are particularly apt. In both instances, the American military was hamstrung by political considerations and their enemies were provided untouchable safe havens in neighboring countries. Too much ‘hearts and minds’ not enough Al Davis “Just win, baby!“

    ‘Unconditional Surrender’ Biden features in the ending of Vietnam just as he did in Afghanistan. As a freshman Senator in 1975 he was a vehement opponent of allocating additional funds to Vietnam (Ford had asked for an additional 300 million). He saw Vietnam as a lost cause and wanted out ASAP.

    Two weeks before Saigon fell in April 1975, a 32-year-old Joe Biden was among the senators summoned to the White House for a top-secret briefing on the crisis in Vietnam.

    Though just a freshman, Biden gave the president a clear message: The situation in Vietnam was hopeless, and the United States should leave as quickly as possible, according to a column by Rowland Evans and Robert Novak at the time that described Biden’s interactions with then-President Gerald Ford.

    Other senators who supported Biden at the time were taken aback by their young colleague’s “didactic performance,” the columnists wrote.

    Nearly half a century later, Biden’s attitude toward the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has been strikingly similar — even as events echo the frantic evacuation of Americans and those who helped them in South Vietnam.

    Its a sad commentary on the political bias of the media… but given the uncomfortable parallels, I’m not surprised it got short shrift by the MSM.

    The other disturbing/disgusting scene played out over and over again across the 20th anniversary of 9/11 was the steady stream of lefty politico’s lionising the NYPD officers among the dead. The same politicos spent the summer haranguing us about the systemic racism endemic to police forces everywhere and called for their defunding. But over the weekend, the police were heroes. Today, I’m sure they are evil racists again.

    Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul? “
    But it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes ” when the drums begin to roll

    “History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme”.

    Except in the case of Joe Biden where we can safely say, “A leopard never changes its spots”.

    • #3
  4. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Hey Jim,

    Yeah, I’m very familiar with Kipling’s poem. I read it in high school, but never thought that I’d be living it. Thanks for posting.

    CACrabtree

    Vietnam Oct 66 – Nov 67

     

    P.S. I did a little post on my Vietnam experience back in March of last year. You might be interested in it.

    Thank you VERY much for your service in Vietnam. I would appreciate the link to your post. God Bless America!

    • #4