Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
That letter by Abraham Lincoln to Mrs. Bixbey was used as the prologue to the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’. General George C. Marshall, on learning that 3 of 4 siblings of a family were killed in the war with Germany, quotes Lincoln and seeks that Private James Ryan be located, saved and returned home. The order to save one soldier for his family is given to a group after they survive a fierce battle during the Normandy landing. Most members of the search party are killed in saving Ryan, including their leader Captain Miller. Here’s how it ended:
It may seem an irony that so many had to be killed to return one soldier home. But Army heads and political leaders who care for mothers who lose many sons to battle understand not only their pain but the responsibility of finding comfort for them. Back home, our Govt seems to frequently rejoice in the death of soldiers. That may be harsh. No, they don’t actually jump for joy or throw a party but their conduct doesn’t reflect the slightest grief for soldiers lost or for their parents and families. Some of these soldiers have very young children who will grow up without a father.
On January 8, 2013 Pak army-men crossed the LOC and beheaded two Indian soldiers, Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh, and injured a couple more. What did some stupid Indians do two days later? Some Indian media crooks, celebrities and their Paki counterparts held an “Aman Ki Asha” debate in Delhi. Who was the moderator? Congress Minister Shashi Tharoor! How’s that for sensitivity? This, while the govt claimed it will not be ‘business as usual’ with Pak after the incident. Shameless people never learn. Voices condemn such actions but when your actions tend to pooh-pooh these incidents, more will follow.
Early August 6, 2013 five Indian soldiers were killed by intruders who crossed the LOC. Defence Minister AK Antony was quick to claim in parliament that these were terrorists and some “persons dressed in Pak military uniform”. This statement was made with prior knowledge that the Pakistani Border Action Team members, regular Pak army men, were involved in the killing. To cut it short, the GOI through the Defence Minister sought to exonerate Pak Army of any involvement in the killings. They were “innocent” so to say. Which country mocks the death of its soldiers in this fashion? It will be hard to find one.
Although I have quoted from the American Civil war and WWII our own history is rich in great battles and great warriors. From the Ramayana and Mahabharata to heroes like Maharana Pratap, Shivaji and many more, we are blessed with those who laid their lives so we could reach this point in time. Maroof Raza, a former army man and commentator on strategic affairs, made some important points on Times Now on August 7. He mentioned that we aspire to be an economic super-power but we don’t learn any lessons. The US and China have become economic super-powers because their political leadership works with and is aligned closely with their military powers. He cited Japan slowing down as an economic power because post-WWII it reduced the emphasis on a strong military power. No matter what the Chinese do, including incursions into Indian territory, their political leadership backs them strongly. In contrast, stated Raza, the current Congress govt has completely demoralised our armed forces.
The Congress govt at the Centre is neither sensitive about the army or the concerns of the citizens and families of army men. It seems pursuit of a pointless dialogue with Pakistan is far more important than the continuous export of terrorism by Pak and frequent killing of our soldiers. Last night President Obama cancelled his meeting with President Putin merely because Russia provided asylum to Earl Snowden, wanted in the US for leaking classified information. Govts that put the nation first act, Govts that put the nation last lie in parliament and then everyone in the govt distances himself from the lie like cowards. The PMO claimed it wasn’t involved in doctoring Antony’s misleading statement in the Parliament. Imagine, a PM who is supposed to himself make a statement has been silent all this while and even distances himself from his Defence Minister. How much of a limp biscuit can one be?
Maroof Raza spoke for ten minutes on Times Now on August 7 and it was like one of the finest speeches I have heard on Pakistan, terror and the Indian govt’s effete behaviour. He asked why Antony or the PM had to wait for the Army Chief to go to Poonch and await a clarifying statement when there are reliable Commanders on the ground who are more aware of facts. Worse, he accused the minister and the govt of being or playing ignorant of Pak army’s permanent partnership with the Jihadis. I tweeted what I heard of his statements.
Raza then went to note how Indian PM’s have mindlessly pursued a policy of dialogue with Pakistan without ever getting anything in return. He noted US political leaders often visit their troops during battles or during peacetime to stay connected with them. Ever seen Indian political leaders ever bothering? No minister or govt official was even around to receive the coffins of the 5 martyred soldiers. When their bodies were received in a J&K base there was none from the State govt to receive them or salute them. It is natural that former army-men on TV are seething with anger as are ordinary citizens. There is hardly any doubt that our soldiers are boiling over too.
And I have to agree again with Raza when he says the govt is treating the army like a ‘fire-brigade’. It seems the army is only meant for internal peace or rescue operations in a tragedy. While their minister faked statements in parliament the Congress members weren’t tired of screaming “don’t politicise, don’t politicise” the killing of soldiers. Who exactly is politicising the incident with doctored statements? And even when it comes to using the army as a fire-brigade in a natural calamity who politicises tragedies? These pics should tell you enough when the Uttarakhand tragedy was taking its toll:
Everything is brought to you by the Congress and the Gandhis. As if the party paid for the food. Having failed in every other area of governance maybe MMS just seeks to somehow make a peace-deal with Pak and create history. Maybe he even hopes to get a Nobel Prize. Who knows! Even AB Vajpayee was guilty of the same mishandling of Pakistan, often inviting Kargil criminal Musharraf for summits. This Musharraf is a great hero for some anti-national media outlets. The only mistake Raza made is in claiming Nehru could have managed such a peace treaty. Wrong! Nehru had the opportunity to permanently settle the Kashmir issue. He did not. The nation’s citizens and its soldiers have been paying a price for it since then.
And while all this continues MMS hopes to have dialogue with his counterpart at the upcoming UN meeting sidelines. It’s now not only tragic, it even looks comic. No matter how much terrorism or killings Pakistan exports our govt keeps hosting them for cricket and unofficial visits. All this for vote-bank appeasement or may be some secret reason. There’s no shortage of Biryanis for officials of a country which has promised a 1000-year holy jihad against India. I hope next time they eat the Biryanis they see the face of dead soldiers in the food.
Also read: “No friendship with Barbarians”.