A salute to our military, past and present.
St. Crispin's Day Speech
Shakespeare's HENRY V- A.D. 1599
Although Shakespeare wrote this work nearly two hundred years after the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, it remains one of the finest dramatic interpretation of what leadership meant to the men in the Middle Ages.
Prior to the Battle, Henry V had led his English army across northwestern France, seizing Calais and other cities in an attempt to win back holdings in France that had once been English and to claim the French crown through the obscure but powerful Salig Law.
The French, aware of Henry's troops weakening condition because of their distance from England and the attacks of dysentery that had plagued the dwindling force, moved between King Henry and Calais, the port he needed to reach in order to return to England. The troops followed Henry's troops along the rivers, preventing their crossing, and daring them to a battle the French believed they could not lose.
The English knights fought on foot after the manner devised by Edward III. Archers were to be used in support, the famous and deadly longbows having established their credentials both at Crecy (1347) and at Poitiers (1356). But here the French seemed to have sufficient numbers to deal with even this threat. Thus, they refused to allow Henry to pass to the coast, angered by the English seizure of some of their cities.
Morale in the English line as they looked upon the overwhelming force of heavily armored, and highly skilled French knights was extremely low. King Henry, rising to the occasion, spoke words of encouragement that rallied the English troops and carried them to a victory. As a result of the victory the French Princess Catherine was betrothed to Henry V, and France and England were at peace for the remainder of Henry's short life. He died in 1422, but was survived by his son, Henry VI, and was buried at Westminster Abbey, close to the shrine of Edward the Confessor.
Although the speech itself is a work of fiction, we know that some kind of rousing speech was indeed given. And taking into consideration Shakespeare’s research into the historical details of his plays, it is fair to surmise that the Bard may have had some written records to go by in reconstructing Henry’s words. In any case, the words are most certainly evocative of the spirit with which Henry ruled through the strength of his convictions and by force of his personality.
Enter the KING
WESTMORELAND: O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!
KING: What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
From Michele Malkin:
Words and men I’ll never forget:
“Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.” - Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr.
“He knew what he was fighting for.” - father of Lt. Michael P. Murphy.
“He felt that what we were doing was just and right.” - Charles Cummings, father of fallen hero Army PFC Branden Cummings, who died in an IED attack in Diyala, Iraq.
“I genuinely believe the United States Army is a force of good in this world.” - 2LT Mark Daily.
Choking back tears, Christian Golczynski accepted the flag from his father's casket. Photographer Aaron Thompson described this moment as "the most emotionally moving event I may have ever witnessed and may ever witness in my life."
(The Daily News Journal)
And from young Christian Golczynski, the young son of Marine Staff Sgt. Marc Golczynski:
Heather Golczynski and her 8-year-old son Christian hold tightly to the memory of Marine Staff Sgt. Marc Golczynski.
On March 27 , just a few weeks before Marc Golczynski was to return home from his second tour in Iraq — one he volunteered for — he was shot on patrol and killed by enemy fire in al-Aanbar province.
During a moment at the burial, Christian stepped forward to receive the flag for his father. The expression of grief on his young face was captured in a photo and became a powerful symbol for soldiers, their families and anyone who sees it.
When asked about his dad by ABC News’ Chris Cuomo, Christian said, “He was a hero. He helped our country.”
…Just days before he left for his second tour, Marc sent a letter to his family that would be his epitaph.
“Due to our deep desire to finish the job we started, we fight and sometimes die so that our families don’t have to. Stand beside us because we would do it for you. Because it is our unity that’s enabled us to prosper the nation,” Marc wrote.
“Marc believed very much what he was doing was right,” [wife] Heather said.
Since Marc’s death, letters of support and gifts have poured in for the family. But for all that his father may now represent to others, to Christian, Dad is the man who spent time with him and played, and who was teaching him about being a soldier.
“He helped our country and tried to stop terrorists,” Christian said.
Give thanks to all who have given their lives in service to our great nation. Freedom is not free.