Tag: United States Army

Member Post

 

June 14 is always Flag Day in the United States of America. It is also the Army birthday. Accordingly, here are a few songs focused on the Stars and Stripes. We conclude with the Army Song. Add your own for the national flag or the Army in the comments. Naturally we step off with John […]

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Photographs and Memories

 

Scrolling through the scanned images from many years of 35mm manual camera photography, I ran across this image. It was one of my better shots from my first military assignment, in Bavaria, West Germany. But who was that young officer doing a standing backflip under the elevated barrel of a King Tiger tank? I had not spoken with him since I left Germany in the spring of 1990, and his name had faded from memory. A bit of poking around the internet answered that question and filled in a vague memory with surprising detail.

When I reported to my officer basic course at Fort Bliss, Texas, I saved my modest pay until I could buy a good basic 35 mm camera kit. I bought a Pentax K1000 camera. Knowing I would be shooting film on the go, my hands often occupied with a map, mike, or machine gun, I went with a compromise lens, an aspherical 28-200mm wide to telephoto lens. That lens stood me in good stead through about seven years of active service, until I busted some pin or ring when I tossed the camera into a back seat.

In an age before cell phone cameras, most consumers either had a real 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) camera or some form of disposable camera with very limited capability. So, I tended to be the guy behind the lens. During an official goof off officer professional development weekend, a paid field trip with our senior officers effectively chaperoning us young’uns, we happened to stop at this scene.

Quote of the Day: Arrrmy Training!

 

Yesterday was the United States Army’s 244th birthday, 14 June 2019. For a brief background on how the Army came into existence, and the tie to Flag Day, also celebrated each 14th of June, see “Celebrating the Flag and the Army on June 14th.” On this occasion, consider the Army through the lenses of recruiting slogans and a song. What’s with the photograph? Wait until we get to the song.

Recruiting Slogans in the All-Volunteer Force:

As the Vietnam War dragged on, with abysmal political and senior military leadership until far too late, it became clear that we needed a new solution to military manpower demands. For most of our nation’s long history, we had a very small professional army. In this regard, we were similar to our parent nation, with its “thin red line.” Yet, that very small force, occasionally reinforced with militia and temporarily authorized volunteer units, won the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurgency, and the near-century-long dusty slog of the American Indian Wars. Those are just the highlights and do not include the Marine Corps’ illustrious history, the story of our other elite infantry force. Now we needed a force that would be entirely professional, and yet far larger than the old Regular Army.

Unexpected Gift on the Ides of March?

 

What unexpected gifts could we celebrate on the Ides of March? The day is best known for the assassination of Julius Caesar in the Roman Senate by other Roman leaders. One of the leaders, Brutus, commemorated the assassination two years later with a coin remembering the Ides of March with two daggers and a common cap, a pileus.

The cap had become associated with the emancipation of slaves. It is still featured in some images of Lady Liberty. So, we could celebrate the unexpected gift of liberty, liberty won by literally striking down the tyrant. However, none of the conspirators covered themselves in glory as republican heroes, let along Heroes of the Roman Republic.

We cannot blame them, really. After all, the Roman Republic had bled out long before the blood of Caesar flowed over its ground. The Republic had committed slow suicide by a thousand self-cuts. Its institutions had become so corrupt and dysfunctional that they invited Julius Caesar to be dictator for life. In the years following his assassination, there was no uprising to restore the Republic. The Senate was contemptuous and contemptible in its corruption. The Roman people ended up being best served by the first emperor, Caesar Augustus, the adopted son and legal heir of Julius Caesar.