(Many will prefer this Marty Robbins version; I prefer the choral version from the John Wayne movie1, of which, alas, I could not find a decent version on YouTube....)
The word "glory" has fallen into dis-use these days, as has "heroism"; in fact, the very concepts seem to be absent.
This is not to say that we should revel in slaughter; however, I do think we could use a little recognition of the meaning of heroism to a nation, and to recognize the fact that there is nothing shameful in it, or in the fact that heroism, great deeds, carry a measure of glory, in the senses of "Honour and valour"or "Victory; success."
I'm no philosopher; others can examine far better than I the question of whether a people can survive without heroes, or an appreciation for courage, of determination in the face of adversity, of standing for a cause and refusing to count the odds.
As for me, I question whether there's any reason for a people without those values to continue to exist.
On a related note, some marvel at the fact that we "celebrate" a defeat.
It takes more for a defeat to be worth commemorating than simply a "great" one, otherwise, we'd be observing Kasserine Pass day every February.
The Battle of Bunker Hill2is memorable because, while the Americans did lose, it took running out of ammunition before they were forced out of their positions by overwhelming odds, and after inflicting such high casualties on the Redcoats (after the slaughter of the Battle Road, during the retreat from Lexington and Concord) that the British Army took years to recover it's nerve.3
The British themselves do not celebrate, for example, Isandlwana--they certainly do celebrate Rourke's Drift!--but Dunkirk, for example, is commemorated.
The French Foreign Legion (subject of my previous post) celebrate the Battle of Camarón as a High Holy Day, trotting out the wooden hand of Capitan Jean Danjou, it's most sacred relic.
We westerners, whether we individually wish to recognize it or not, all owe a debt of gratitude to the 300 Spartans and their 2700-odd allies at The Battle of Thermopylae. The Spartans may have been unsavory sons of bitches with no regard for the finer things in life, but they Saved The Sum of Things For... Well, because that's what they did.
Anyway, what makes a great defeat memorable is the standing in the face of insuperable odds, of spitting in the teeth of death and defeat, of going down fighting.
One of my favorite t-shirts--I'm wearing it now, as a matter of fact--shows the Gunfighter's Prayer, which concludes
and Lord if today is truly the day that You call me home, let me die in a pile of brass.
***1. Mind you, as history, the John Wayne version is a crock. For example, Jim Bowie did not want to wage a guerrilla "cut, slash, and run" campaign. Travis did. Bowie wanted to defend the Alamo.
2. Don't quibble.
3. Some argue that the British Army never really had it's heart in the war anyway, seeking the Americans as cousins, who had at least some valid arguments at that. It's debatable.