20 March 2006

Let each unit have its say

I have been reading, with some interest to say the least, at The Dignified Rant and it is interesting to see that one can come to very similar conclusions about things from very different perspectives. It is well worth the time and effort to read and understand, and so some of my alt-history reading has been on hold.

But the thing that now needs be addressed is the lack of any real understanding by the People of the United States is that of how our Citizen Soldiers work. If I have any fault with the entire military complex from top to bottom it is that the stories of the men and women serving in our Armed Forces is not being told, save on an ad hoc basis by some few soldiers on their own. And Mr. Manchester at The Adventures of Chester, has looked for ideas on this and so I sent along a first hit at this to him. I hope any readers go over for a visit to see what he comes up with as it should be interesting.

I am one who likes old solutions to modern problems, especially if the fit is a good one. And for this the electronic media should be allowing for the return of a tradition that has been lost with the advent of writing and the regularization of the military. It is the tradition of the Soldier who tells the story of those who fight and live and work together to achieve their ends. One who is a Soldier, but needs give rise to the story of everyone they know. The name for that morphed through the English language, but the force and power of it still remains in many lands:


Shakespeare was given the title of Bard for his retellings, though fictional, gave the flavor the 'right of things'. But the Bardic tradition is ancient going back through oral histories to a time when literacy was not around as a concept. A Bard would go through the battle and then organize it as best he could and retell it and share it to learn more of the battle and give it a final polish. That story would then be spoken of to the rest of the people and passed down, word for word, generation to generation. The Bard's words would ring through many voices but still speak of one time, one place and one set of men fighting the good fight. And years later a different Bard would retell the story and a veteran mayhaps would hear it and close his eyes and relive that time... and he would say or say not if the telling gave justice to the time recounted.

The electronic media allows a great many-to-many communication, but what is lost is that the flavor of a thing can be so diluted as to be lost by such. The distilled telling of a story of what happened and the people in that happening is no longer easy to find in drab statistics with a few poignant stories here and there. We miss our Bards to tell us of those we care about and how they lived and fought and died. We no longer feel so close to those people as we did in elden days.

My proposal is a very simple one and so easy to do that it should not sit heavily on the vast and sprawling military complex. Let each unit decide upon one of their own to tell their story of their unit. That one can decide how often the telling needs be and adjust it so that weeks of tedium can be summarized weekly, while hours of stark combat may need recording immediately to capture it and the feelings involved. All necessary security and other things can be handled via normal means, and asking for a simple rewording if the Bard tells too much or redaction to allow grace and honor to come first to a family of one fallen before the world learns of his or her death. But at some point the entire story in its original should be released in its entirety once safety and concern for the dead are gone.

Those in the unit have needs must choose the one that will be responsible for the telling. This cannot be assigned from above, but must be chosen by those involved. And that one chosen will know that their telling is not to aggrandize themselves or to play favorites, but to tell about everyone in the unit, from top to bottom. Reprimands for views of the unit cannot be taken as both good and ill *must* be told. The stories of Homer do not dance around things gone wrong nor egos that are inflated, but tell them as part of what was and what happened. Perhaps the unit can read it individually first, and talk about what is to go out so that at the end we can see a line like:

As it is written here, so say we ALL.

Unit histories can be compiled later with facts and statistics and operations and grand names of things. But this most personal set of stories of the life and times of those who live it needs to be told now, more than ever.

We need more than an Army of Davids.

We must hear of the Davids in the Army.

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