Some text will come along with this post, soon. Going to try and catch the sunset.
On June 6, 1944, General George S. Patton wrote this letter to his twenty-year-old son, George Jr., who was enrolled at West Point. Patton Sr. was in England training the Third Army in preparation for the battles that would follow the invasion at Normandy.
Note: The letter’s grammar and spelling have been slightly edited for clarity.
APO 403, N.Y.
At 0700 this morning the BBC announced that the German Radio had just come out with an announcement of the landing of Allied Paratroops and of large numbers of assault craft near shore. So that is it.
This group of unconquerable heroes whom I command are not in yet but we will be soon—I wish I was there now as it is a lovely sunny day for a battle and I am fed up with just sitting.
I have no immediate idea of being killed but one can never tell and none of us can live forever, so if I should go don’t worry but set yourself to do better than I have.
All men are timid on entering any fight; whether it is the first fight or the last fight all of us are timid. Cowards are those who let their timidity get the better of their manhood. You will never do that because of your blood lines on both sides. I think I have told you the story of Marshall Touraine who fought under Louis XIV. On the morning of one of his last battles—he had been fighting for forty years—he was mounting his horse when a young ADC [aide-de-camp] who had just come from the court and had never missed a meal or heard a hostile shot said: “M. de Touraine it amazes me that a man of your supposed courage should permit his knees to tremble as he walks out to mount.” Touraine replied “My lord duke I admit that my knees do tremble but should they know where I shall this day take them they would shake even more.” That is it. Your knees may shake but they will always take you towards the enemy. Well so much for that.
There are apparently two types of successful soldiers. Those who get on by being unobtrusive and those who get on by being obtrusive. I am of the latter type and seem to be rare and unpopular: but it is my method. One has to choose a system and stick to it; people who are not themselves are nobody.
To be a successful soldier you must know history. Read it objectively–dates and even the minute details of tactics are useless. What you must know is how man reacts. Weapons change but man who uses them changes not at all. To win battles you do not beat weapons–you beat the soul of man of the enemy man. To do that you have to destroy his weapons, but that is only incidental. You must read biography and especially autobiography. If you will do it you will find that war is simple. Decide what will hurt the enemy most within the limits of your capabilities to harm him and then do it. TAKE CALCULATED RISKS. That is quite different from being rash. My personal belief is that if you have a 50% chance take it because the superior fighting qualities of American soldiers lead by me will surely give you the extra 1% necessary.
In Sicily I decided as a result of my information, observations and a sixth sense that I have that the enemy did not have another large scale attack in his system. I bet my shirt on that and I was right. You cannot make war safely but no dead general has ever been criticised so you have that way out always.
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.
The most vital quality a soldier can possess is SELF CONFIDENCE–utter, complete and bumptious. You can have doubts about your good looks, about your intelligence, about your self control but to win in war you must have NO doubts about your ability as a soldier.
What success I have had results from the fact that I have always been certain that my military reactions were correct. Many people do not agree with me; they are wrong. The unerring jury of history written long after both of us are dead will prove me correct.
Note that I speak of “Military reactions”–no one is borne with them any more than anyone is borne with muscles. You can be born with the soul capable of correct military reactions or the body capable of having big muscles, but both qualities must be developed by hard work.
The intensity of your desire to acquire any special ability depends on character, on ambition. I think that your decision to study this summer instead of enjoying yourself shows that you have character and ambition—they are wonderful possessions.
Soldiers, all men in fact, are natural hero worshipers. Officers with a flare for command realise this and emphasize in their conduct, dress and deportment the qualities they seek to produce in their men. When I was a second lieutenant I had a captain who was very sloppy and usually late yet he got after the men for just those faults; he was a failure.
The troops I have commanded have always been well dressed, been smart saluters, been prompt and bold in action because I have personally set the example in these qualities. The influence one man can have on thousands is a never-ending source of wonder to me. You are always on parade. Officers who through laziness or a foolish desire to be popular fail to enforce discipline and the proper wearing of uniforms and equipment not in the presence of the enemy will also fail in battle, and if they fail in battle they are potential murderers. There is no such thing as: “A good field soldier:” you are either a good soldier or a bad soldier.
Well this has been quite a sermon but don’t get the idea that it is my swan song because it is not–I have not finished my job yet.
Your affectionate father.
I admit – there has been an obscene amount of reading, eating and spending over the past few days. For one, I’ve been thoroughly consumed by the eloquence of The Great Gatsby, which has now left me on a path learning about the art of gentleman etiquettes, dancing, and clothes. Don’t laugh, I am serious.
I’ve always wondered how much a book can influence your lifestyle, and if it varies on different individuals. I won’t say that we have a lot of people that read, but at the very least there is a handful – abundantly enough to form a social hierachy – that reads. Yet, I’m not sure if their truest thoughts are concealed deep within the fabrics of their mind, or that they simply don’t get what I get. How can a person read the same book – same words and lines, same manner and all – and yet perceive from the simple words an entirely different meaning? We could trace this difference back to genetic, or perspective frame or mindset but that would put doubt on the literacy of a writer. So must he write 12039812 different styles?
Do these words form synapses based on what we do have stored in our heads? Or are they strictly affiliated with how much of your mind you allow open? Or perhaps people read for the sake of keeping their minds busy and absorbs only very little.
Perhaps a more accurate speculation would be that what we take of this world is based on our emotional intelligence, for me that is Eve. If so, then that means that we are ALL, to a certain extent, limited. Unlike IQ, EQ’s not at all measurable. You could tell a person’s EQ from conversation, but most of the time we don’t bother. I think I’m fortunate though, because my parents are some impressively brilliant and amazing people and I’m quite glad I’m their offspring. Well, not enriching financially but in every other single way.
I am slightly and fortunately impressed at the amount of ideas that pop into my head nowadays, from conversations and speeches. The Alchemist was a stepping stone towards spirituality; (Further down)The Road Less Travelled towards humanity and maturity; The Social Animal towards understanding social circumstances and the importance of a position of dominance; The Great Gatsby in exploring the essence of a great man and societal skills, and now Walden which explores the solitary corners of the mind. I’ve also showered in a variety of other captivating reads like Martin’s A song of Ice and Fire was an indulgent read, as well as other self-help books.
Even National Service is playing it’s part now – I’ve never been quite optimistic about it, but I am more than keen – possibly passionate – towards excelling in this ‘self-development’ path as they put it.
I don’t truly know where I am headed with this, so I shall withdraw back into reading. Lie. But I won’t reveal it.
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” Speechless.
My spork is getting far more attention than I am.
I haven’t stopped listening to this song, and I’ve been listening only to his songs along with Mcmorrow’s for the past few days. I thought about something interesting while idling today and I thought I might post about it tomorrow or perhaps during the weekend – something about students’ and their social situation in schools.
Also, if anyone would like to spend an afternoon at Kinokuniya this Saturday, drop me a message. 😀
‘You can only wish on a star that you cannot reach’
I am, and have been for a long time, truly mesmerized by a full moon. Nights like these are nights I look forward to. It is like being in the presence of a majestic greatness where I would feel incredibly spirited to dream and fantasize.
I love how it’s light illuminates the night sky; it’s beam shooting across in all directions, slowly shading into the darkness. And when a cloud passes by, you could see an entire spectrum of colours of white, red, and blue. More extraordinarily, how the clouds gather and engulf it’s lights to leave a single, shaded white ball.
The elements of the night sky can truly be appreciated on nights like these, sometimes clear or partially clouded. You could see, most of the time, Orion’s formation – once I’ve seen it’s full formation – and I’d just stand in awe and watch it.
The moon’s beauty, along with the skies and the stars, is particularly hypnotizing, and I wonder why not many appreciate it’s monthly presence. It has this ability to yank out my soul, and caress it to the point where I’d feel entirely disconnected to my surrounding. And it is truly cathartical for the soul, even if only for a moment.
The other thing about the moon is how we could see it move across the horizon, yet we can never witness it rise or set. It is like a light that keeps my hands forward and longing, yet knowing that I would never be able to embrace it. That’s life right there.
I’ve read the posts I’ve written over the past year and, while sligtly amazed by the things I write, I am quite embarassed at how unprofessionally personal the posts are. Wondering if I should start writing professionally.
Well here’s another life threatening issue: I still cannot answer a How-are-you.
Who on earth started this tormentuous greeting anyway? You may think you’re being polite but you have no idea how much of my brain cells die the moment you decide it would be an appropriate greeting.
A HAY could probably be the single most polite greeting that stands between being interested in one’s well being – yet not so much the big stuff, just enough to get a conversation going – and a proper hello. But nonetheless this greeting jams my mind, and I’d just idle and look at the person while my brain finds an appropriate neural path with a story to tell.
For example, if you’re a not-so-social creature (by choice), and someone comes and asks you how you’re doing you’d go “Oh I’m doing fine!” and the conversation dies.
And if you’re a slightly social creature you’d return the greeting with another HAY (social protocol) and they’d probably say – I am fine too.
Then the conversation dies because both pointless questions have been exchanged and you find yourself in a familiar, awkward silence.
If you’re the more sociable creature you’re probably used to digging depths in conversation so a conversation could probably happen. I would probably pin the blame on ‘Why ask in the first place?’ but I won’t because I can’t think of a better alternative for the great HAY.
So how do you answer? Your immediate response would probably be, ‘Fat classmate, he’s lost some weight’ but you don’t say ‘Wow nice body, what the hell happened?’. That wouldn’t be so appropriate. So you play the HAY card but that fails because he says ‘I’m fine, having a hard time at work, same old.” At this point you could begin to try to extend the conversation in hope of finding out that stress has made him smaller but then you weigh the point and benefits of a conversation, and you find nothing.
And so the conversation runs dry as they often do, and you bid farewell and carry on on your way.
Most often when we meet people and have nothing to say, we reduce ourselves to a HAY which sometimes makes an unnecessary awkward situation (which I usually just avoid my smiling and nodding and carry on walking). This often happens when you meet an acquaintance that falls in neither good friend nor family category. It does sometimes occur towards a semi-close friend or family member as well.
A HAY today is no longer a polite and genuinely caring greeting, but a symbol of social awkwardness. I’ve had many encounters where friends “Hey how are you?” and walks off. I’m not quite sure if I’m supposed to email or text him my response, which would be an cruelly long email titled ‘Because you asked.’
HAY’s are no longer enough to be social, people. We know the more genuine ones because their body language speaks distinctly, or that they rephrase the HAY.
I won’t bother with a response knowing you don’t care because I’d have to spend some few thousand brain cells to package you an appropriate answer.
Can’t be bothered to read through whatever I’ve just typed. I find myself drained for no good reason.