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December 10, 2009
In Praise of PeacemakersBy Greyhawk
"Peace is generally good in itself, but it is never the highest good unless it comes as the handmaid of righteousness; and it becomes a very evil thing if it serves merely as a mask for cowardice and sloth, or as an instrument to further the ends of despotism or anarchy."
President Theodore Roosevelt, that is. The first American to win a Nobel Prize, Roosevelt was recognized in 1906 for his work in the negotiations that led to the Treaty of Portsmouth ending the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.
But Roosevelt did not actually attend the December 10, 1906 ceremony in Norway. "He did not feel right accepting the prize while he was in office." In his absence, Ambassador Herbert Peirce appeared on his behalf, delivering a speech that included this excerpt from a telegram from President Roosevelt:
I am profoundly moved and touched by the signal honor shown me through your body in conferring upon me the Nobel Peace Prize. There is no gift I could appreciate more and I wish it were in my power fully to express my gratitude. I thank you for it, and I thank you on behalf of the United States; for what I did, I was able to accomplish only as the representative of the nation of which, for the time being, I am president.
However, following his term in office Roosevelt made the trip to Norway, delivering his own speech in May, 1910.
Roosevelt understood the hard role of the peacemaker. If his words sound familiar, it may be because they were delivered a few days after his oft-quoted Sorbonne speech ("It is not the critic who counts... The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...")
"Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world," Roosevelt admonished those who attended his speech at one of the oldest universities in the world, adding his disregard for those "who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are."
Both the above speeches are well worth reading today. "The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms," Barack Obama announced years later on the Nobel stage, praising the peace and prosperity promoted by the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform in the past.
Perhaps they are inspiring. Most certainly they were inspired.
"Colonel Roosevelt and his Rough Riders at the top of the hill which they captured, Battle of San Juan, July 1898." Roosevelt's actions earned the Medal of Honor - posthumously.
Headlines/coverage from the New York Times:
December 11, 1906: THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE AWARDED TO ROOSEVELT; President Will Found with it an Industrial Peace Committee.
December 15, 1906: NOBEL TO THE PRESIDENT
December 17, 1906: THE NOBEL PEACE AWARD MET MUCH OPPOSITION
March 29, 1907: NOBEL PEACE COMMITTEE Organized to Handle Prize Awarded to Mr Roosevelt
May 5, 1917: ROOSEVELT ROUSES COLLEGIANS TO SERVE: 300 at Harvard Club Meeting take Applications for the Officer's Reserve
July 7, 1918: ROOSEVELT TO GIVE $40,000 WAR FUND Will Contribute Nobel Peace Prize for Relief of Soldiers and Their Families
July 9, 1918: VOTE TO RETURN $40,000
Posted by Greyhawk / December 10, 2009 11:30 AM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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