He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
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 ‘Tomorrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then he will strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day…
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
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 accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”
King Henry V, Act 4. Scene III by William Shakespeare
There is a brotherhood among those who have ‘seen the elephant’ in its many guises; my own service in submarines provided one particular episode on my first patrol that I’m still not sure whether I can discuss it publically, but that those who were there can and should stand tall as we did our duty that day at risk of our lives and all we hold dear. The biggest enemy we had in the boats was the ever-present, implacable sea whose pressure always sought to force a way into our steel tube, but the Soviets and their allies provided some moments of challenge as well.
For my brothers who fought our nations’ enemies in other areas as well as those who stand facing our enemies today, may the reading of the speech attributed to King Henry V by Shakespeare give you courage and well-earned pride at your service. Liberty is costly; those who enjoy the freedom that is theirs by right as citizens of the United States are debtors (acknowledged or no) to those who have once written a blank check to the government, especially who cashed out in their blood.