Before the Dawn: It’s a Long Way to Tipperary
11 November 2018
One family Halloween tradition for me is watching “The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.” Last month, as I observed the story arc, I thought the segment on Snoopy as the World War I flying ace was not of a piece with the trials and travails of Linus to hold onto optimism and remain sincere in the face of hypocrisy and pessimism: The Great Pumpkin wasn’t showing up.
But, now that I think of it, Mr. Schultz was making a profound statement with his cartooning.
In the face of so much chaos and evil, the flying ace Snoopy prevails. He usually is the one character holding it together while the little tykes fumble footballs, mope, cry, and cynic-ize their way through child-life.
It was a long way to Tipperary for people who survived the Great War. I know, because I used to listen as a child, after school, to some of them. The local firehouse in my home town in northern New Jersey was located right across the street from my elementary school. That location was the setting for some very elementary lessons in democracy, citizenship, patriotism, courage and the cost of liberty.
The firemen welcomed those Veterans of Foreign Wars, every afternoon, for a cup of coffee and sweet treats, delectable pastries from Verp’s, the local Dutch bakery. These gnarled old men sat and smoked cigars and played cards and swapped stories and jokes. The jokes I did not understand; the stories I did. I also gleaned their sense of horror about Socialism overtaking The Old Country.
From those stories and sensibilities, I wrote essays that won First Prize in the essay contests sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and by the American Legion. I received a ribboned medal for each prize-winning essay. There were, I think, five of them. I treasured those medals for many years. I mounted them on fabric and framed them. Leaving them behind me as I journeyed West was an emotional sacrifice; but I believe I couldn’t have written THE DAWN with those souvenirs in my tangible possession.
There weren’t many World War II vets at the time talking about their war traumas, so I guess their silence left plenty of space and time and words for the survivors of the Great War to speak, sparingly, of their time in France. As a matter of fact, though, the tall granite-and-brass-plaque-memorial outside the front of my red-brick schoolhouse in that little town bore more names from the Civil War and the Great War than from World War II.
I was quite young, nine, ten, eleven years of age when I heard these old coots talking; and though I cannot repeat in detail the bits and pieces of the bits and pieces of their lives that erupted 100 or so years ago, I can tell you that those old men left an immensely enduring impression upon me regarding what it takes to be a man, and a woman, and a patriotic American. Those war veterans defined for me, along with other elders from that era, the precepts that are so vaguely known and too unfamiliar to the most current of generations.
Those ages-old ideals and ideas have not been lost. They’ve been discarded, forgotten, ignored, and severely wronged, much like elder-abuse. It takes a certain grit and gumption to reclaim them, but first it takes the courage to acknowledge them and then to state them. Honoring them takes more than a ritualized day-off-of-work, or, in the UK, a bank holiday.
Each 11 November, in America, and in Western Europe, poppies are worn and proud statements are pronounced to remember the day when the bloody fighting ceased: the Armistice went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month on 11 November 1918.
On 11 November, I quietly celebrate the poppy. And I think back to the overly effusive words that my mother granted to that solemn day that commemorated the end of the Great War. Her gushing over anything usually meant the thing was an object of her derision and cynicism. My idealism was born, in part, of her mockery of the reveries and reverences of life.
The war to end all wars.
Yup. It was a pipe dream. But the heroes of the Great War did not believe they were sacrificing life and limb for an illusion. To go into battle to fight any enemy is to believe with every fiber in your being that the future is at stake, the future is in your hands, and God is your co-pilot while you fly, however blindly, into that future.
It’s a long way to Tipperary for the current crowd of hypocritical puppets and crass cowards in France and the back-stabbing pawns and poltroons in England: the Governments who are so obscenely ignorant of their own past that a novel like THE DAWN presents revelations that appear to be fiction.
When I observed the politicians and diplomats of France and England attempting to thwart the will of the people of the United States to defend themselves after 9/11, I felt a sense of rage that I didn’t know I possessed. It was mild compared to what others in this nation felt. I tempered my emotions with a singular statement by Miss Froy, The Lady character from the Hitchcock film, The Lady Vanishes:
“I never think you should judge any country by its politics. After all, we English are quite honest by nature, aren’t we?”
Setting aside my inner warning to “never” think never, and assessing my personal experiences with the many people I’ve known who were from England and from France, I do think the English are astoundingly honest, subtly, in their own way; I also think the French can be quite dishonest, frankly, in their own way. I do not, however, think the British and the French peoples are the craven liars and dullard double-crossers who presently populate the “representative” portions of their governments.
Unlike their politicians, the citizens of Western Europe are not Machiavellian cowards. Those vast anonymous Anyones did not wish upon the United States the barbarians of Islam so that they would not have to deal with them. The silent, suppressed, sorrowful citizens of Western Europe are not the abhorrent lily-livered skunks that constitute their governments.
Any patriotic American can hold only revulsion and contempt for those governments-in-name-only.
To let the United States carry the load of protecting liberty and democracy for decades on their continent; and then blame the United States for the attacks of 9/11, and calculate that it’s better for the Islamic fascists to go after America than for Western Europeans to have to deal with those savages — looming at their continent from across the Mediterranean Sea — that yellow-bellied collusion to despicably safeguard only “the EU” has now come home to roost in the shires, the banlieues, the parks, the provinces, the streets and lanes, even the homes of Western Europeans.
The feckless frauds “leading the EU” did not hope the crocodile would eat them last: they believed the crocodile would not eat them at all. The reptilian beast would go after the United States and leave Europe alone. Western Europe is now breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the crocodile that found the fare fast, cheap and easy, even free. The crocodile also enjoys crumpets and tea at three!
“It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” was a song that the Montessori British pre-school teacher of my little little daughter used to sing to me as I told her of the early beginnings of NOTTINGHAM, the novel that grew into THE DAWN. (See February 2013 Essay.)
It used to be hard for me to get that song out of my mind. I now rarely think of it. That long way has become almost interminable for the democracies of Western Europe. Not endless, but it’s a long, hard slog toward the freedoms that they so blithely tossed away during the 60 years of socialism that resembles a sugar addict in a bakery or a drunk in a liquor store.
The peoples of that once-great region live now merely to endure — the betrayals of their belief in democracy, the bungling of governance, and the onslaught of the barbarians who were, initially, imported as an easy, quick, low-cost vote-grabbing scheme. It was a very foolish, myopic gamble by the government ghouls. The marker has come due. Those imported votes came at quite a cost to a civilized world.
The post-war crutch of socialism has nearly become a permanent, though misshapen, leg of the body politic for the nations of Western Europe. Those countries are crippled to the point where walking in freedom, true freedom, will occur only after decades of re-habbing capitalism within a citizenry that feels foreign in their own country.
I was so much younger and comically naive back in the day when I believed that the end of the Cold War brought a chance to Western Europe to finally throw off the shackles of socialism and thus fully recover from a century of wars and woeful mismanagement of their own peoples. The Europeans are in a new century now, and their collectivist days and nights are starting to teach the youngest among them — cruel lessons from those Great War soldiers who died to save Europe from its own self-destruction 100 years ago.
Those incredibly brave citizens, men and women, sought just to live another day in the fight for survival. The soldiers fought in ghastly trenches, to not be blown-up or mustard-gassed, while the upper classes, in their opulent estates, largely looked away from the tragedy as they planned their futures and their fortunes from the fates of war determined by the noble sacrifices of young men and, to be fully frank, young women.
Not much has changed on that western front, except the upper classes are now the high-ranking and rank fonctionnaires of Parliament and Versailles; along with the aging trust-fund babies living off of very old wealth. There is no new wealth, because there is no innovation, just transfer payments from one sick and sorry nation to another, after the exorbitant euros have passed through enough hands of the blithering Brussels bureaucrats, and then enough euros have been skimmed off the top of the euro-pile for the corrupt elites.
Here in America, we’re also in a new century, and we’re hurtling toward putting that first quarter of it behind us. We’re packing up our troubles in our old kit-bag, one that might yet be Made in the U.S.A.
Whatever is now made in Western Europe is of their own doing. They own it.
Come to think of it, those old geysers in the borough
Fire House, the Doughboys first Over There, in Cantigny, in Belleau Wood, in
the Argonne Forest — they voiced words very much to that effect. I think I learned their lessons well.