Friday, August 6, 2010

Band of Brothers

Ambrose used it to describe a Army Company's exploits in World War II.  It's an oft quoted source and for good reason.  Shakespeare captured in these verses a sense of fraternity that is difficult to describe.  In the book "Band of Brothers," Ambrose talks about the Easy Company from the 506th of the 101st Airborne Division.  He used that Shakespearean reference because it described the bond these soldiers had.

Some of you know I'm involved in a "Band of Christian Brothers" and it's an intense time of discipleship require a lot of discipline, transparency, humility and honesty.  Going through the fight with these guys has resulted in a better walk with God, being a better husband and father.

I pulled the original verse up and I just love the whole concept.  Historically, King Henry was in France at Agincourt.  He was outnumbered 5 to 1 and his guys were deadmeat tired, while the French were fresh.  It looked like it would be a slaughter.  And it was, but the complete opposite.

In one of the classic underdog stories of all time, Henry's forces slaughtered the French.  How did they do it?  By artillery.  The English utilized the long bow.  Henry sit up his archers in the woods surrounding the battlefield.  It had rained so the field was one big mud pit.  This equalized a lot-- the French cavalry became very bogged down.  As did the soldiers themselves.  The English archers had their way.

But the night before the battle, it looked like suicide.  So here it is-- from Bill Shakespeare:

O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

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