Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bookworm strikes again

Military men are often more romantic, she says, than their peers who have not served in the profession of arms. She's right. Read her post all the way through for the top-shelf insight into vulnerability with which she finishes.

Both the military man and the romantic cheer for the underdog, and both ultimately succeed only if they're willing to engage at close quarters, which is why General Lewis "Chesty" Puller or one of his brothers-in-arms from WWII once encouraged men of the First Marine Division by roaring something like "We're surrounded. They can't get away from us now!" Even aphorisms with no known attribution back Bookworm's thesis: "Only the strong can be gentle," comes to mind, as does "All's fair in love and war."

Ignatius Loyola was a romantic and a soldier. Ditto Joan of Arc, and Robert E. Lee, even if there is some controversy as to whether he was the general who said "It is well that war is so terrible, else we should grow too fond of it."

I know a little more about Lee than the other two worthies in the foregoing paragraph: You have to be a romantic to fight on principle for what Confederate survivors would remember as "the lost cause" -- and Lee turned down command of the Union armies to offer his services to the state of Virginia instead, even though his background as an engineer certainly gave him an appreciation for the Northern industrial might that he knew he would have to face in battle.

On the other side of the ledger in that conflict, Union hero Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was known both for his fighting prowess and his soft heart. You could also make an interesting case for Chamberlain's wartime boss, General Ulysses S. Grant, as being a closet romantic. Grant was stubborn and hard-drinking, to be sure, but he was also utterly loyal to anyone he respected, smitten by horses, and happily married to Julia Dent, the sister of his college roommate.

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