A great man once said, "Politics is inherently stupid." That great man was me.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Remember the Sacrifice of This Day

As you give thanks for the freedoms you enjoy. Freedoms which were paid for so dearly with the blood of gallant young men whom we shall never forget. Today we remember the Battle of the Somme, and the sacrifice of 96% of the men of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont-Hamel. No other unit suffered such casualties on that murderous day. Out of some 800 brave young men, only 68 answered roll call the next day. A plaque at Beaumont-Hamel today reminds visitors of the sacredness of this hallowed ground, as the words of poet John Oxenham bring forth honour to these fallen warriors:

Tread softly here! Go reverently and slow!
You let your soul go down upon its knees
And with bowed head, and heart abased strive hard
To grasp the future gain in the sore loss!
For not one foot of this dank sod but drank
Its surfeit of the blood of gallant men.
Who for their faith their hope - for life and liberty
Here made the sacrifice - here gave their lives
And gave right willingly - for you and me.

From this vast altar-pile the souls of men
Sped up to God in countless multitudes.
On this grim cratered ridge they gave their all.
And giving won.
The peace of Heaven and immortality
Our hearts go out to them in boundless gratitude.
If ours - then God's for His vast charity
All sees, all knows, all comprehends - save bounds
He has repaid their sacrifice - and we - ?
God help us if we fail to pay our debt
In fullest full and all unstintingly!

It was later said of the attack:

"It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valour, and its assault only failed of success because dead men can advance no further." Major-General Sir Beauvoir de Lisle (commander, British 29th Division) regarding the Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont-Hamel.

Later, the regiment somehow managed to go on, winning this praise in 1918:

"Thank God, my left flank is safe! Now for my right." Brigadier General Bernard Freyberg, VC (commander British 88th Brigade), at the Battle of Ledeghem, September, 1918, upon learning that the Newfoundland Regiment held his left flank in battle against all attacks.

Today we remember the fallen of the Nation of Newfoundland and Labrador, and pray for the safety of our soldiers serving in the armed forces of our great nation of Canada. Happy Canda Day Everyone. Never forget why we enjoy the freedoms we hold so dear.

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