Friday, November 20, 2009

Courage - never give up

To listen to all my talk of the courage of the ancients one would think there were no examples worthy of note closer to hand. But of course there are. We baby boomers are but one or two generations away from the last world war when another seemingly invincible foe threatened to conquer the free world. Another Battle of Thermopylae took place only 70 years ago. A few men again stood against many. The defending heroes numbered about the same as that Greek advance guard long ago, but instead of spears and short swords they wielded Hurricanes and Spitfires.
Their battle would be called the Battle of Britain, but their story begins before that. Here is an excerpt of Churchill’s address to the House of Commons on 4 June 1940 following the evacuation of 335,000 allied troops from Dunkirk

A miracle of deliverance, achieved by valour, by perseverance, by perfect discipline, by faultless service, by resource, by skill, by unconquerable fidelity, is manifest to us all. The enemy was hurled back by the retreating British troops. He was so roughly handled that he did not hurry their departure seriously. The Royal Air Force engaged the main strength of the German Air Force, and inflicted upon them losses of at least four to one; and the Navy, using nearly 1,000 ships of all kinds, carried over 335,000 men, French and British, out of the jaws of death and shame, to their native land and to the tasks which lie immediately ahead. We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations. But there was a victory inside this deliverance, which should be noted. It was gained by the Air Force….

This was a great trial of strength between the British and German Air Forces. Can you conceive a greater objective for the Germans in the air than to make evacuation from these beaches impossible, and to sink all these ships which were displayed, almost to the extent of thousands? Could there have been an objective of greater military importance and significance for the whole purpose of the war than this? They tried hard, and they were beaten back; they were frustrated in their task. We got the Army away; and they have paid fourfold for any losses which they have inflicted. Very large formations of German aeroplanes - and we know that they are a very brave race - have turned on several occasions from the attack of one quarter of their number of the Royal Air Force, and have dispersed in different directions….

When we consider how much greater would be our advantage in defending the air above this Island against an overseas attack, I must say that I find in these facts a sure basis upon which practical and reassuring thoughts may rest. I will pay my tribute to these young airmen. The great French Army was very largely, for the time being, cast back and disturbed by the onrush of a few thousands of armoured vehicles. May it not also be that the cause of civilization itself will be defended by the skill and devotion of a few thousand airmen?


The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart. Robert G. Ingersoll

Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. Winston Churchill

Who hath not known ill fortune, never knew himself, or his own virtue. David Mallett

Everyone will be taxed according to his means. Johann Friedrich Von Schiller

Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress. Nicholas Murray Butler

Optimism is the foundation of courage. Nicholas Murray Butler

Stand upright, speak thy thoughts, declare the truth thou hast, that all may share; be bold, proclaim it everywhere. They only live who dare. Voltaire

Courage, in the final analysis, is nothing but an affirmative answer to the shocks of existence. Kurt Goldstein

Where life is more terrible than death, it is the truest valour to dare to live. Sir Thomas Brown

Often the test of courage is not to die, but to live. Conte Vittorio Alfienri

Courage is generosity of the highest order, for the brave are prodigal of the most precious things. Charles Caleb Colton

The bravest are the tenderest. The loving are the daring. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Courage is grace under pressure. Ernest Hemingway

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace. Amelia Earhart

Freedom is not for the timid. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

Image by Molock67

No comments:

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond