Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Minstrel Boy

This past weekend, I watched Blackhawk Down. Again.

No matter how many times I see this movie or read the book by Mark Bowden, I am shaken to the core. When I competed on the USU Ranger Challenge team, our 10k ruck run always made me wonder about the "Mogadishu Mile" that the real Rangers had to run to get back to the protection of the stadium - all the time exhausted from combat and still taking enemy fire.

At Fort Knox, I ate breakfast in the same mess hall with Retired LTC Danny McKnight (played by Tom Sizemore in the movie) and later that day both he and Master Sergeant Matt Eversmann (played by Josh Hartnet in the movie) spoke to us about leadership. I learned that real heroes don't look like Josh Hartnet - they are bald like MSG Eversmann (wink wink).

I get a little choked up watching the scene where Special Forces Detachment Delta operators Gary Gordon and Randall Shugart defend downed pilot Michael Durant, holding off the enemy forces until they run out of ammo and are killed - their bodies drug through the streets, beaten and pummeled by the mob of Somali militia. In the movie, when Sergeant Shugart hands CWO Durant his fallen comrade's rifle and says, "Gordy's Gone" I want to bawl like a baby.

I have been listening to the song that plays as the movie rolls credits - The Minstrel Boy. Becca, and my coworkers are all probably ready to kill me because I've listened to it so much this past week.

It's a poem written by an Irishman whose friends died fighting for their independence in 1798 - it became popular with Irish troops fighting for the Union in the American Civil War.
The minstrel boy to the war is gone,
In the ranks of death you'll find him;
His father's sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;
"Land of Song!" cried the warrior bard,
"Tho' all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy right shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!"

The Minstrel fell! But the foeman's chain
Could not bring that proud soul under;
The harp he lov'd ne'er spoke again,
For he tore its chords asunder;
And said "No chains shall sully thee,
Thou soul of love and brav'ry!
Thy songs were made for the pure and free
They shall never sound in slavery!

I think this song speaks volumes about what it truly means to be free - it's something that we rarely thing about these days as Americans. "Give me liberty or give me death!" has devolved into "Give the remote control and I'll be happy".

Take a moment and watch this clip - it has the sacrifices of Gary Gordon and Randall Shugart set to the appropriate song The Minstrel Boy.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).”


georganne said...

I want you to know I did NOT read the poem or watch the video...yet. I just dropped Stan off for his 15 month business trip to the middle east. Maybe you should tell me a funny story.

Scar Belly said...

Georganne, for you and Stan, I'd do just about anything.

I'll get right on the funny story...

In the meantime, I'm imagining Stan making captured Insurgents hang from monkey bars for 1/2 hour because they were late ;-)

georganne said...

I knew I could count on you!