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We Happy Few: A Toast to the Fallen and a Suck It to the Apathetic

MARSOC Marines

Picture courtesy of American Heroes Through Graphite

We few, we happy few.  Many will know the Shakespeare text of which I speak when it was said, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother”   If you are unsure whom I reference, let me go ahead and fill you in.  This week, 7 Marines and 4 Soldiers perished in a tragic helicopter incident off the coast of Florida.  As tragic as this incident was, I was actually fascinated by the response on social media.  You see, many reported the incident on social media, but few, so very few actually took time to honor the fallen.  Too many discarded this as another car accident type event and moved on with their merry days.  I wouldn’t expect much more and honestly don’t hold it against any who did.  Rather, it falls upon those whom have served to honor the death of our fallen, because to be quite honest, I am not sure too many others would care to try.  And even if they did, I am not sure it would matter.

Fallen Warriors

Let me go ahead and remind you again, I am a Marine Veteran of no particular special merit.  I served, went pew pew pew in the enemy’s general direction in Iraq, but that was about it.  While I might have the occasional skill with words, I simply don’t want to confuse you that this somehow translates to making me a special operator of any sort.  Whenever I see a bearded internet meme asking me, “Do You Even Operate Bro?”, I often reply with no, no sorry, I don’t operate at all actually.  If you were confused about the matter, let me just remind you that you are indeed reading a blog titled Unprecedented Mediocrity.

military operator

But these Warriors on the doomed Helo, these do not appear to be your average Grunt.  By all accounts, it would appear that most if not all were accomplished warriors.  In fact, one had just recently received the Silver Star for actions in combat. Consequently, I think it highlights the tragedy of such an event.  Technology is a hell of thing in that it can bring swift death to those on both sides of it.  These Warrior Marines were at the mercy of the technology in this crash. However, if you put these Marines in the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan against a much larger force, well,  I like those odds.  All those whom serve deserve honor, respect, and a toast at their passing.  However, for warriors such as these, perhaps you pull out your finest whiskey for this toast.  But let’s talk a little more about this honor.

We Honor Our Own

As the news began to break on social media regarding the tragedy, I took note that while many reported it, it was only the Veteran and Military pages that took time to honor them.  Lamenting a death and honoring it is not the same thing. However, this is not an article to make civilians feel bad nor is it one to drum up support for some crocodile tears.  Rather, I am just commenting that those who know will always toast the fallen because they know too well that no one else will in any meaningful manner. To be honest, I think Veterans are good with this arrangement and I’ll tell you why a little later. However, it is an inevitable by product of a society too far removed from the sacrifice of a very few.  Winston Churchill once said of the RAF in World War 2, “Never was so much, owed by so many,  to so few.”  Too bad the many in this case think rarely of the few.

Marine Deaths

For even at the height of World War 2 in America, would it surprise you that only 12% of the population served in the military? Would it further shock you that despite nearly 14 years of war, only 0.5% of the population has served during these recent conflicts.  Oh we few, we happy few.  It is remarkable to think that if you combined every Veteran and Military page on social media, you wouldn’t come close to reaching the 77 million fans that follow Justin Beiber, or as I like to call him, the taint of Canada.  In fact, were he to tweet or message a remorseful thought about the passing of these great warriors, more would see it than if the sum of the military community posted in unison. While that might seem tragic and painful, I think I speak for us Veterans when I say, suck it citizens of apathy.  We don’t need no stinking tears.

Honor, Courage, Commitment

Look, again, I am not hear to claim that every civilian doesn’t care. Many of you do and that is respectful.   Rather, I am just saying most don’t care and if you do care, you are in the minority.  However, I am here to claim that Veterans could care less about civilian apathy.  Or at the very least, I have given up on awakening the apathetic.   As a man of faith, I don’t give much weight to any earthly honor that I might receive at my passing.  However, if I did, I would just want it from my family.  Yes, I am talking about my immediate blood, but family flows further than blood in the Veteran community.  For if 2nd Platoon, Kilo Company 3rd Battalion 23rd Marines of 2003 would have a drink and a toast at my death, well that is about all the earthly respect I would need. Those are my brothers of war, and by virtue of our common mother, WAR, all Veterans are my family.  To be honest, all 77 million of Justin Bieber’s fans can dance on my grave so long as the men that matter think fondly of me at my death.

military death

So while the Veteran community honors these fallen Marines and Soldiers and the rest of the world moves on, I am just here to tell you that I am not sure warriors would have it any other way. We few, we happy few, know the rare joy of brotherhood in this modern age.  Social Media has connected us in this modern age, but we have no different heart than those who lit the fires of a Viking funeral in ages past.  For I would rather the honor and respect a few proud men, than the passing sentiments of an ungrateful and apathetic nation.  So if the passing of these Marines matters to you, raise a drink!  If they don’t, well, carry on with the plan of the day and suck it.

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Jeff Edwards

19 Comments

  1. Raising a glass of Garrison Brothers fine Texas bourbon as I read your blog post. Thanks Jeff…your words mean everything to this old grunt from the Gulf War.

    I, as well, couldn’t care less who didn’t notice my passing. As long as the men of Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment (Rakkasans) Gulf War “Hard As Hell” brothers in arms raised a glass in my honor…my passing over to Valhalla will be honorable and a journey made with a light heart and muddy jump boots!

    Respect!!!

    Jeff Prescott
    Ops NCO
    D-1-187
    Sep 1990-Apr 1991

    • well said, brother, well said. You paved the way for many after you.

  2. Sorry about the anonymous comment…thought I logged in with Facebook icon.

  3. Nice words . Articulated , concise and honest . Will pass on . 2AD 1/41 INF (FWD) . C co 2nd plt . 90 – 92

    HELL ON WHEELS
    DOMINATORS

  4. They were my brothers and one especially who was my brother by way of our mother war, I sit on a plane as I write this, my destination is a reunion with my aviation family and we will be toasting our fallen brethren.

  5. Each year at the Marine Corps Ball, Marines express their pride in those whom have gone before us, especially for those who gave that last full measure of devotion. The Foreign Legion has and especial toast for those of their brothers who sacrificed their lives in the fulfilment of their duty. The toast is “To our brothers in the sand”. Tonight as I lift my glass of beer I will reflect upon all the Marines I know, or knew both living and dead, and quietly propose to them “To our brothers who sleep in the sand, Semper Fi Marines”.

  6. Very well said Jeff. I expect the same sendoff someday, you guys are much younger than I so you’ll probably outlive me. By the way, I spoke with Doc Mijares today after many years and he seems to be doing well. Semper Fi

    • We will send you off right old man! Glad Doc is doing well. i keep up with him on Facebook from time to time. I think we might need a Kilo reunion soon.

  7. One shot of Crown down in their honor,and respect to all my military brothers & sisters and their families. Hooah.

  8. Well said… Though few civilians will most likely read to the end, … We will… Damn those who give little pause to such events… And God damn those who speak ill of this great country and those who made her so..

    • Yes Indeed Bob, America is not perfect, but I’ll take her any day over the closest alternative.

  9. Great article Jeff…and I too stop to honor those soldiers and marines who have fallen, by no misstep of their own.

    I also hear you with “qualifying” yourself before giving an opinion. There is always someone who has done more, served longer, better story teller, etc. I’m glad that doesn’t hinder your willingness to share.

    Chris Gregory
    32nd MP- Gulf War. (REMF)
    Hafir Al Batin POW Camp

    By the way..”What makes the grass grow?”

    • Thanks Chris, great comments. You are right, I always qualify myself just to be clear and transparent about who is speaking. I don’t think less of myself, but don’t want anyone to think I am trying to be grandiose about how I am. You are definitely right though, we all serve our roles. And to your last point, we all know that blood is the best fertilizer known to man. Thanks for weighing in Chris.

  10. I am “just” a BRAT and a military wife, but sir I would beg to differ with you here: “…Marine Veteran of no particular special merit.” I would venture to guess others might feel the same.

    I so appreciate this post more than words can articulate. I simply honor them with my husband and my father in my humble way in hopes (perhaps idealistic) that someday our nation will come to the realization that we need to honor those who defend it more than those who defend a football.

    • Thanks for the words. I have no doubt that you are one of minority who mean that honor with all sincerity since you live it with your husband and family. Your words were well said.

  11. I’m an active duty CWO4/Seabee-Diver (Underwater Construction Technician/89 – present) and I want to thank you for this post. It is spot on and expresses my sentiments accurately. I happened to come across this blog while looking for some inspiration and ideas before speaking on the anniversary of a fallen Teammate. Unfortunately, unlike you, I’ve rarely been accused of having any particular skill with words or an original thought for that matter. If you don’t mind I would like to incorporate the general theme that you have expressed and quotes into what I’ll be saying.

  12. Jeff, some civilians read your blog to the end AND read all the comments. I missed this one last month and just finished it. Keep writing as you offer a window into the soul of a Marine.
    To those who gave their last full measure I can only say…All Honor to their names!

Comments are closed.