July 11, 1798: Rebirth of the Marine Corps





The Continental Marine Corps was disbanded after American victory in the Revolutionary War.  Predation by Barbary corsairs, and conflicts with the French Revolutionary Navy caused Congress to re-establish both the Navy and the Marine Corps.  On July 11, 1798, President Adams signed the Act re-establishing the Corp: (more…)

Western Civilization?



Cardinal:  But, may I suggest,
in the manner of the Greeks.
Michelangelo:  No, in my own manner!
Cardinal:  True, no modern artist can
hope to equal the Greeks!
Michelangelo:  Why not? Why shouldn’t we equal
them? Surpass them, if we can.
Cardinal:  Really, Master Buonarroti,
I had heard you lacked modesty…
but do you claim to be
greater then the Greeks?
Michelangelo:  – I claim to be different.
Cardinal:  – For the sake of difference?
Michelangelo:  Because I am different.
I’m a Florentine and a Christian…
painting in this century. They were
Greeks and pagans living in theirs.
Cardinal:  Pagans? Christians? An artist
should be above such distinction.
Michelangelo:  And a cardinal, especially one who
pretends to understand art…
should be above such foolishness.
I’ll tell you what stands
between us and the Greeks.
Two thousand years of human
suffering stands between us!
Christ on His Cross
stands between us.

Screenplay, The Agony and the Ecstasy


Since Trump’s speech defending Western Civilization in Poland there has been a fair amount of commentary on what Western Civilization is.  The Jews and the Greeks brought a constellation of ideas into being that were amplified by the Romans, producing unique cultures in Western Europe that gave birth to a civilization known as the West, a daring, ever questing civilization that is perpetually seeking to surpass itself, and which has proven simultaneously attractive and repellent to the other civilizations that inhabit the globe.  Compared to the West most other civilizations are static and seek only to replicate themselves across time and space.  The West is different, and everyone knows it, whether they love it or hate it.



Published in: on July 10, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Harley Goes to War


Harley-Davidson had been building motorcycles since 1904.  During World War I the War Department purchased about 20,000 from Harley. ( Indian supplied the most motorcycles for the War, approximately 50,000.)  The Harley military motorcycle was based on their series J and had a 15 horsepower engine.  The electric headlamp was replaced with a gas powered one.  At the time this was a fairly complicated piece of machinery for an army that was going from the horse age to the engine age in one bound.  Harley founded the Harley-Davidson Quartermasters School which gave  a three week crash course in the construction and maintenance of the motorcycles for Army quartermasters and mechanics.  The course was so successful that Harley made it a permanent part of its operation after the War as the Harley Davidson Service School.

Published in: on July 9, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Stars and Stripes Forever

Something for the weekend.  The weekend after the Fourth of July and Stars and Stripes Forever seems called for.  Beyond a doubt the best known composition of John Philip Sousa, it is the National March of the United States.  Sousa wrote it on Christmas Day 1896 and it proved massively popular, especially when it was played during the Spanish-American War.

Let martial note in triumph float
And liberty extend its mighty hand
A flag appears ‘mid thunderous cheers,
The banner of the Western land.
The emblem of the brave and true
Its folds protect no tyrant crew;
The red and white and starry blue
Is freedom’s shield and hope.

Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

Let eagle shriek from lofty peak
The never-ending watchword of our land;
Let summer breeze waft through the trees
The echo of the chorus grand.
Sing out for liberty and light,
Sing out for freedom and the right.
Sing out for Union and its might,
O patriotic sons.

Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation,
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free.
May it wave as our standard forever
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray,
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.


A Just War





Based on the just war doctrine first enunciated by Saint Augustine, the American Revolution was a just war.


Over the centuries the precise content of the just war doctrine has varied.  The classic definition of it by Saint Thomas Aquinas is set forth in Part II, Question 40 of his Summa Theologica:

“I answer that, In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged. For it is not the business of a private individual to declare war, because he can seek for redress of his rights from the tribunal of his superior. Moreover it is not the business of a private individual to summon together the people, which has to be done in wartime. And as the care of the common weal is committed to those who are in authority, it is their business to watch over the common weal of the city, kingdom or province subject to them. And just as it is lawful for them to have recourse to the sword in defending that common weal against internal disturbances, when they punish evil-doers, according to the words of the Apostle (Rm. 13:4): “He beareth not the sword in vain: for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil”; so too, it is their business to have recourse to the sword of war in defending the common weal against external enemies. Hence it is said to those who are in authority (Ps. 81:4): “Rescue the poor: and deliver the needy out of the hand of the sinner”; and for this reason Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 75): “The natural order conducive to peace among mortals demands that the power to declare and counsel war should be in the hands of those who hold the supreme authority.”

Secondly, a just cause is required, namely that those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault. Wherefore Augustine says (Questions. in Hept., qu. x, super Jos.): “A just war is wont to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished, for refusing to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly.”

Thirdly, it is necessary that the belligerents should have a rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil. Hence Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. [*The words quoted are to be found not in St. Augustine’s works, but Can. Apud. Caus. xxiii, qu. 1]): “True religion looks upon as peaceful those wars that are waged not for motives of aggrandizement, or cruelty, but with the object of securing peace, of punishing evil-doers, and of uplifting the good.” For it may happen that the war is declared by the legitimate authority, and for a just cause, and yet be rendered unlawful through a wicked intention. Hence Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 74): “The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, an unpacific and relentless spirit, the fever of revolt, the lust of power, and such like things, all these are rightly condemned in war.”

The most recent formulation of the Just War doctrine for the Church is set forth in the Catechism at 2309: (more…)

Published in: on July 6, 2017 at 3:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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July 4, 1917: Lafayette We Are Here!



One hundred years ago a moving scene occurred in Paris.  After official American and French ceremonies at noon to commemorate Independence Day, a battalion of the American 16th regiment, from the newly formed 1rst Division, marched through Paris to the tomb of the Marquis de Lafayette, who had done so much to help the Americans in their Revolutionary War.  French troops home on leave, some of them wounded, in impromptu fashion joined the Americans in marching along.  The people of Paris went wild, showering the American troops with flowers, hugs and kisses.  After the troops arrived at the tomb, Colonel Charles Stanton, a nephew of Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, gave a short speech with an unforgettable ending:



“I regret I cannot speak to the good people of France in the beautiful language of their own fair country.

“The fact cannot be forgotten that your nation was our friend when America was struggling for existence, when a handful of brave and patriotic people were determined to uphold the rights their Creator gave them – that France in the person of Lafayette came to our aid in words and deed. It would be ingratitude not to remember this, and America defaults no obligations.

“Today is the anniversary of the birth of the American nation, of a people whose declaration of rights affirms that ‘all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ It is celebrated at home with joy and thanksgiving, with bonfire and illuminations, because we feel that since our advent into the galaxy of nations, we have borne the part of good citizens, respecting the law and living in the fear of God.

“We are a people slow to anger but unyielding in the maintenance of our rights and national honor.

“The patience, the forbearance, the patriotism of President Wilson, who tried every honorable means to avoid this conflict cannot be too highly praised, for he realized the dread consequences of a declaration of war, and the misery it would inevitably invoke. The arrogant, tyrannous representative of a Prussianized autocracy, has violated every law of civilization. He regarded the solemn Geneva treaty, to which his country was a signatory power, as a scrap of paper, deliberately made his preparations while the world slept in fancied security, and then declared war upon the allied powers.

“The United States protested from time to time against his arbitrary acts, receiving from him promise upon promise that he would observe the rules and regulations of war, but every promise was broken, every agreement violated. At last patience ceased to be a virtue and our long suffering President, realizing to the full the responsibility that was his, declared a state of war existed with the German government.

“This declaration was in behalf of more than one hundred millions of free men and women.

“At once a debate was had in Congress as to the best method of recruiting an army which would worthily maintain our national honor.

“A census was taken of the men between 21 and 31 years of age who could be spared, leaving enough to till the soil, to keep our industries speeded up to full production, to maintain law and order and produce revenue as under normal conditions.

“To the eternal credit of America’s youth, more than ten million voluntarily signed this roll of honor. Thus it is that a handful of us are with you today, who have come to blaze the trail for those to follow.

“We have pledged to General Pershing, our distinguished Commander-in-Chief, loyalty and absolute obedience. Under his direction each man will perform his allotted tasks to the end that, upon arrival, American troops, fully equipped, can take their place side by side of those gallant allies who have borne the burden through three deadening years.

“History will record the brilliant achievement of the men of France, and a soil ensanguined by their blood shall be the home of a free people forever. Never can be forgotten the fidelity, the courage, the loyalty of the women of France, who bore her sons uncomplainingly and gave them up unflinchingly. Their presence here, in the somber garments that denote the loss of loved ones, should cause the pulse to quicken, the arm to grow stronger while declaring their sacrifices were not made in vain, and they shall not be called upon again to endure them.

“At some future time another genius of your fair country will compose an anthem, which will unite the moving cadences of the Marseillaise and the quickening warmth of the Star Spangled Banner. This Hosannah will be sung in martial strain with glad acclaim by a liberty loving people, the melody rising to a diapason sinister to tyrants, but soothing as a mother’s lullaby to a people who cherish honor for itself and their posterity.

“America has joined forces with the allied powers, and what we have of blood and treasure are yours. Therefore, it is with loving pride that we drape the colors in tribute of respect to this citizen of your great Republic, and here and now, in the shadow of the illustrious dead, we pledge our heart and our honor in carrying this war to a successful issue.

LaFayette, we are here!”


Published in: on July 5, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.


Published in: on July 4, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Declaration For All Times

These communities, by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: ‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. [Applause.] Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide their children and their children’s children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages. Wise statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants, and so they established these great self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that none but rich men, or none but white men, were entitled to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the battle which their fathers began — so that truth, and justice, and mercy, and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land; so that no man would hereafter dare to limit and circumscribe the great principles on which the temple of liberty was being being built.

Abraham Lincoln, Lewistown, Illinois, August 17, 1858


Published in: on July 3, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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July 2, 1863: Twentieth Maine Charges


A. A. A. G., Third Brig., First Div., Fifth Army Corps.

        SIR: In compliance with the request of the colonel commanding the brigade, I have the honor to submit a somewhat detailed report of the operations of the Twentieth Regiment Maine Volunteers in the battle of Gettysburg, on the 2d and 3d instant.


Published in: on July 2, 2017 at 4:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Ballad of the Green Mountain Boys

Something for the weekend.  The Ballad of the Green Mountain Boys, celebrating the exploits of the Vermont militia during the American Revolution.  The Green Mountain Boys mustered again in the War of 1812, the Civil War and the Spanish American War.  The Vermont National Guard today is informally known as The Green Mountain Boys.

Green Mountain Boys Flag

Published in: on July 1, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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