This New Year’s Eve was different for me than almost any other one in recent memory, and I’ve been reflecting on this the last couple of days. I was having a wonderful, fun time as I always have .. until five minutes to midnight. Having arrived at our friends home at 8pm, the same friends with whom we spend every New Year’s, the first 3 hours and 55 just flew by, and yet … all of a sudden I didn’t want those last 5 minutes to come at all. That’s when everyone, 30 or so people from all over the various parts of the house, started gathering around the huge TV in the family room, with noise makers and hats in anticipation of the imminent countdown of the ball at Times Square. And just then … it hit me … hard. Melancholy. Sadness. Trepidation.
I separated myself from the crowd, and took a seat at the kitchen counter where I could see the TV from afar. I could sense my husband watching me, yet knowing enough to leave me be. Alone with my thoughts, I couldn’t help but think of what could have been … what this New Year’s Eve should have been, what I so hoped it would be. I couldn’t help but think of how only a couple months or ago, I felt such optimism; that the country stood a real chance to be given the shot in the arm it needed to slow the crash down, to take a deep breath, to start righting some wrongs, to start turning things around. I thought again of how just a couple months or so ago I couldn’t wait to say goodbye and good riddance to 2012, and raise a toast to the potential for things to come. I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to take a little bit of a breather and a step back from the daily citizen-soldiering for truth, justice and the American way. And then came November 6 … and everything changed. And as the ball dropped, and as everyone started counting backwards from 10, I blocked out all the noise, and recalled an important life-changing moment that inspired me as a young girl.
The year was 1970. I was 15 years old, and struggling … in school, and at home. After many years divorced, my mother was engaged to remarry. It was a bit unsettling emotionally, and I remember my younger sister and I struggled to come to terms with having a stepfather. As a veteran of the Navy, who lost quite a few buddies at Pearl Harbor, it would come as no surprise that on a weekend afternoon, and in an effort to spend some personal quality time with us, Walter packed us up and took us to the movies. “Patton,” starring George C. Scott had opened. Obviously, this was a movie that HE wanted to see; we didn’t even know who Patton was. But, we knew we’d get popcorn and a soda … and that was just fine with us.
The lights went down, the curtain went up, and there on the screen I saw the biggest American flag I had ever seen in my life. Silence. Then came the sounds of steps. Each step bringing more and more of General George Patton into view, a little bit at a time until he got to the top step, in all his splendor, standing there in front of the American flag. And my life changed at that very moment. Literally. I was blown away by the power of the man, the grit and determination of the man, the respect he had for his troops, the fact that he never asked them to do that which he himself wouldn’t do, that there was no such thing as “can’t” or “not possible.” He led, empowered, encouraged, and motivated, and his love for his country was infectious.
From that day on, I spent my teen years and beyond reading hundreds of books on Patton, on World War II; and because of Patton’s feelings about Russia, that lead me to read voraciously about the history of Russia, from the Romanov dynasty all the way to World War II. It instilled in me a profound sense of duty to my country and honor to be an American. I became very self-educated in these areas, with detail that I never learned in school.
I sat in my friend’s kitchen on New Year’s Eve, and thought how tragic that in this time and place in our history, there is no “Patton,” no one of a grand stature in the Republican party who speaks for me and like-minded citizens, who represents us, who understands us, who puts country first, who worships the Constitution, who honors our Founding Fathers, whose principles guide him and won’t be swayed. There is no one who inspires me to keep on keeping on, to fighting the fight—not only against those who would destroy our country on purpose for the benefit of their ideology, but against those who through weakness and appeasement, are accelerating America’s demise. There is no one to LEAD, no one to get into the fox holes and dirty his hands with his troops. In this day of mostly feckless, wayward, kick-the-can-down-the-road ‘leadership,’ I am reminded of something that Patton wrote on D-Day in a letter to his 20-year old son, George, Jr., who was enrolled at West Point: “I am sure that if every leader who goes into battle will promise himself that he will come out either a conqueror or a corpse he is sure to win. There is no doubt of that. Defeat is not due to losses but to the destruction of the soul of the leaders. The “Live to fight another day” doctrine.”
To this day, I watch the movie at least once a year, and every time I see that opening scene with “Patton” walking up those steps standing in front of the American flag to address his troops, I get shivers. I truly do. But, I also get inspired anew.
I got up from where I sat in the kitchen, took a deep breath, put a smile on, gave New Year’s best wishes kisses and hugs to my family and friends, and once home, with family asleep in the wee hours, I popped in the DVD of “Patton.” It was, coincidentally, cued up to where I had apparently left off at another viewing–-one of the most inspirational segments in the movie and one of Patton’s great and famed achievements.
While in Bastogne, the 101st Airborne had fought heroically in holding up the German advance at the critical road junction of Bastogne, but became surrounded when the Germans hit their lines behind them, and captured a number of American doctors and medics, as well as killing many soldiers. The terrible, freezing weather had kept them from being re-supplied by air; and food, weapons and ammo were in desperately short supply. The situation for the 101st was critical. The German commander, General von Manteuffel of the 5th Panzer Army, sent a letter to the 101st Division Commander, General Arthur McAuliff, asking for honorable surrender. General McAuliff reacted with his now famous one-word response to von Manteuffel: “NUTS!” When General Patton heard about that, he was inspired and determined to provide aid and assistance to the 101st but … he was not nearby. His Third Army had been engaged in bitter fighting at Hitler’s vaunted West Wall, well south of the Bulge action. Yet … he was able to disengage three divisions, turn them north, race them over more than 100 miles of icy roads and attack Manteuffel’s southern flank, all within 48 hours. An unbelievable feat!
I present the following not only to my fellow patriots who I know need inspiration just about now, but to the many troops (with special mention to Mike T and the guys in his unit) who follow my posts and send me messages, thanking me–-and all of you-–for keeping up the fight. They tell me while they are far from home, we inspire them. And, as we head into another non-stop four-year battle for freedom, we can’t look back in the rear view mirror … we can’t keep posting or commenting in social media about who “should have been nominated” or why Romney didn’t win. F*K THAT. We have to be inspired to act. I hope what follows will do that for you. We’ve been given a gift … from God … this precious land, from sea to sea … to protect and keep free. Just as his troops would have gone to hell and back for Patton, and just as he’d go to hell and back for his men, and his country … we must do the same. I am ready.
And … uh … to Obama, I say … “NUTS.”
Somewhere in England – June 5, 1944
The Allies had been gathering in lower England for many months, setting for the greatest amphibious invasion in the history of the world and warfare. It was June 5, 1944, the eve of D-Day. The invasion of the French coast at Normandy had already been delayed once when General Eisenhower gave the green light for the commencement of “Operation Overlord.” On the evening of the 5th, the Allied gliders and parachutists would enter the interior of Normandy, with the multiple missions of disrupting communications, taking out ordnance aimed at the landing beaches, and generally confusing the German enemy. That night, the main invasion force would also set out, crammed with their gear into near every type of warship available. The next day they would penetrate the Nazi’s Atlantic Wall, bravely storming the code-named beaches of Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah.
A special man was in lower England on June 5: General George S. Patton. He was there stealthily. The Germans were not to know of his whereabouts. That night he addressed his Third Army in what may be one of the most rousing speeches ever given a fighting force.
The big camp buzzed with a tension. For hundreds of eager rookies, newly arrived from the states, it was a great day in their lives. This day marked their first taste of the “real thing.” Now they were not merely puppets in brown uniforms. They were not going through the motions of soldiering with three thousand miles of ocean between them and English soil. They were actually in the heart of England itself. They were waiting for the arrival of that legendary figure, Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr., Old “Blood and Guts” himself. Patton of the harsh, compelling voice, the lurid vocabulary, the grim and indomitable spirit that carried him and his Army to glory in Africa and Sicily. They called him “America’s Fightingest General.” He was no desk commando. He was the man who was sent for when the going got rough and a fighter was needed. He was the most hated and feared American of all on the part of the German Army. Patton was coming, and the stage was being set. He would address a move which might have a far reaching effect on the global war that, at the moment, was TOP-SECRET in the files in Washington, D.C.
The men saw the camp turn out “en masse” for the first time and in full uniform, too. That day, their marching was not lackadaisical. It was serious and the men felt the difference. From the lieutenants in charge of the companies on down in rank they felt the difference. In long columns they marched down the hill from the barracks, counted cadence while doing so. They turned off to the left, up the rise and so on down into the roped off field where the General was to speak. Gold braid and stripes were everywhere. Soon, company by company, the hillside was a solid mass of brown. It was a beautiful fresh English morning. The tall trees lined the road and swayed gently in the breeze. Across the field, a British farmer calmly tilled his soil. High upon a nearby hill a group of British soldiers huddled together, waiting for the coming of the General. Military Police were everywhere wearing their white leggings, belts, and helmets. They were brisk and grim. The twittering of the birds in the trees could be heard above the dull murmur of the crowd and soft, white clouds floated lazily overhead as the men settled themselves and lit cigarettes.
On the special platform near the speakers stand, Colonels and Majors were a dime a dozen. Behind the platform stood General Patton’s “Guard of Honor;” all specially chosen men. At their right was a band playing rousing marches while the crowd waited and on the platform a nervous sergeant repeatedly tested the loudspeaker. The moment grew near and the necks began to crane to view the tiny winding road that led to Stourport-on-Severn. A captain stepped to the microphone. “When the General arrives,” he said sonorously, “the band will play the Generals March and you will all stand at attention.” By now the rumor had gotten around that Lieutenant General Simpson, Commanding General of the Fourth Army, was to be with General Patton. The men stirred expectantly. Two of the big boys in one day!
At last, the long black car, shining resplendently in the bright sun, roared up the road, preceded by a jeep full of Military Police. A dead hush fell over the hillside. There he was! Impeccably dressed. With knee high, brown, gleaming boots, shiny helmet, and his Colt .45 Peacemaker swinging in its holster on his right side.
Patton strode down the incline and then straight to the stiff backed “Guard of Honor.” He looked them up and down. He peered intently into their faces and surveyed their backs. He moved through the ranks of the statuesque band like an avenging wraith and, apparently satisfied, mounted the platform with Lieutenant General Simpson and Major General Cook, the Corps Commander, at his side. Major General Cook then introduced Lieutenant General Simpson, whose Army was still in America, preparing for their part in the war.
”We are here,” said General Simpson, “to listen to the words of a great man. A man who will lead you all into whatever you may face with heroism, ability, and foresight. A man who has proven himself amid shot and shell. My greatest hope is that some day soon, I will have my own Army fighting with his, side by side.”
General Patton arose and strode swiftly to the microphone. The men snapped to their feet and stood silently. Patton surveyed the sea of brown with a grim look. “Be seated,” he said. The words were not a request, but a command. The General’s voice rose high and clear.
”Men, this stuff that some sources sling around about America wanting out of this war, not wanting to fight, is a crock of bullshit. Americans love to fight, traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. You are here today for three reasons. First, because you are here to defend your homes and your loved ones. Second, you are here for your own self respect, because you would not want to be anywhere else. Third, you are here because you are real men and all real men like to fight. When you, here, everyone of you, were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the toughest boxer, the big league ball players, and the All-American football players. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.”
”You are not all going to die. Only two percent of you right here today would die in a major battle. Death must not be feared. Death, in time, comes to all men. Yes, every man is scared in his first battle. If he says he’s not, he’s a liar. Some men are cowards but they fight the same as the brave men or they get the hell slammed out of them watching men fight who are just as scared as they are. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared. Some men get over their fright in a minute under fire. For some, it takes an hour. For some, it takes days. But a real man will never let his fear of death overpower his honor, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood. Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base. Americans pride themselves on being He Men and they ARE He Men. Remember that the enemy is just as frightened as you are, and probably more so. They are not supermen.”
”All through your Army careers, you men have bitched about what you call “chicken shit drilling.” That, like everything else in this Army, has a definite purpose. That purpose is alertness. Alertness must be bred into every soldier. I don’t give a fuck for a man who’s not always on his toes. You men are veterans or you wouldn’t be here. You are ready for what’s to come. A man must be alert at all times if he expects to stay alive. If you’re not alert, sometime, a German son-of-an-asshole-bitch is going to sneak up behind you and beat you to death with a sockful of shit!”
”There are four hundred neatly marked graves somewhere in Sicily. All because one man went to sleep on the job. But they are German graves, because we caught the bastard asleep before they did. An Army is a team. It lives, sleeps, eats, and fights as a team. This individual heroic stuff is pure horse shit. The bilious bastards who write that kind of stuff for the Saturday Evening Post don’t know any more about real fighting under fire than they know about f—ing”
”We have the finest food, the finest equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. Why, by God, I actually pity those poor sons-of-bitches we’re going up against. By God, I do.”
”My men don’t surrender. I don’t want to hear of any soldier under my command being captured unless he has been hit. Even if you are hit, you can still fight back. That’s not just bullshit either. The kind of man that I want in my command is just like the lieutenant in Libya, who, with a Luger against his chest, jerked off his helmet, swept the gun aside with one hand, and busted the hell out of the Kraut with his helmet. Then he jumped on the gun and went out and killed another German before they knew what the hell was coming off. And, all of that time, this man had a bullet through a lung. There was a real man!”
”All of the real heroes are not storybook combat fighters, either. Every single man in this Army plays a vital role. Don’t ever let up. Don’t ever think that your job is unimportant. Every man has a job to do and he must do it. Every man is a vital link in the great chain. What if every truck driver suddenly decided that he didn’t like the whine of those shells overhead, turned yellow, and jumped headlong into a ditch? The cowardly bastard could say, “Hell, they won’t miss me, just one man in thousands.” But, what if every man thought that way? Where in the hell would we be now? What would our country, our loved ones, our homes, even the world, be like? No, Goddamnit, Americans don’t think like that. Every man does his job. Every man serves the whole. Every department, every unit, is important in the vast scheme of this war. The ordnance men are needed to supply the guns and machinery of war to keep us rolling. The Quartermaster is needed to bring up food and clothes because where we are going there isn’t a hell of a lot to steal. Every last man on K.P. has a job to do, even the one who heats our water to keep us from getting the ‘G.I. Shits’.”
”Each man must not think only of himself, but also of his buddy fighting beside him. We don’t want yellow cowards in this Army. They should be killed off like rats. If not, they will go home after this war and breed more cowards. The brave men will breed more brave men. Kill off the Goddamned cowards and we will have a nation of brave men. One of the bravest men that I ever saw was a fellow on top of a telegraph pole in the midst of a furious fire fight in Tunisia. I stopped and asked what the hell he was doing up there at a time like that. He answered, “Fixing the wire, Sir.” I asked, “Isn’t that a little unhealthy right about now?” He answered, “Yes Sir, but the Goddamned wire has to be fixed.” I asked, “Don’t those planes strafing the road bother you?” And he answered, “No, Sir, but you sure as hell do!”
”Now, there was a real man. A real soldier. There was a man who devoted all he had to his duty, no matter how seemingly insignificant his duty might appear at the time, no matter how great the odds. And you should have seen those trucks on the rode to Tunisia. Those drivers were magnificent. All day and all night they rolled over those son-of-a-bitching roads, never stopping, never faltering from their course, with shells bursting all around them all of the time. We got through on good old American guts. Many of those men drove for over forty consecutive hours. These men weren’t combat men, but they were soldiers with a job to do. They did it, and in one hell of a way they did it. They were part of a team. Without team effort, without them, the fight would have been lost. All of the links in the chain pulled together and the chain became unbreakable.”
”Don’t forget, you men don’t know that I’m here. No mention of that fact is to be made in any letters. The world is not supposed to know what the hell happened to me. I’m not supposed to be commanding this Army. I’m not even supposed to be here in England. Let the first bastards to find out be the Goddamned Germans. Some day I want to see them raise up on their piss-soaked hind legs and howl, ‘Jesus Christ, it’s the Goddamned Third Army again and that son-of-a-fucking-bitch Patton’.”
”We want to get the hell over there. The quicker we clean up this Goddamned mess, the quicker we can take a little jaunt against the purple pissing Japs and clean out their nest, too. Before the Goddamned Marines get all of the credit.”
”Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler. Just like I’d shoot a snake!”
”When a man is lying in a shell hole, if he just stays there all day, a German will get to him eventually. The hell with that idea. The hell with taking it. My men don’t dig foxholes. I don’t want them to. Foxholes only slow up an offensive. Keep moving. And don’t give the enemy time to dig one either. We’ll win this war, but we’ll win it only by fighting and by showing the Germans that we’ve got more guts than they have; or ever will have. We’re not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we’re going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We’re going to murder those lousy Hun cocksuckers by the bushel-fucking-basket. War is a bloody, killing business. You’ve got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts. When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirt it’s the blood and guts of what once was your best friend beside you, you’ll know what to do!”
”I don’t want to get any messages saying, “I am holding my position.” We are not holding a Goddamned thing. Let the Germans do that. We are advancing constantly and we are not interested in holding onto anything, except the enemy’s balls. We are going to twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all of the time. Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy. We are going to go through him like crap through a goose; like shit through a tin horn!”
”From time to time there will be some complaints that we are pushing our people too hard. I don’t give a good Goddamn about such complaints. I believe in the old and sound rule that an ounce of sweat will save a gallon of blood. The harder WE push, the more Germans we will kill. The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed. Pushing means fewer casualties. I want you all to remember that.”
”There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you WON’T have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, “Well, your Granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana.” No, Sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say, “Son, your Granddaddy rode with the Great Third Army and a Son-of-a-Goddamned-Bitch named Georgie Patton!”
“That is all.”
Letter from Patton to his son
LETTER from Patton to his son