17
Jun
10

The Bonds Between Veterans

Over to one of my favorite blogs, “This Ain’t Hell“, Operator Dan has a post up about the bonds between those who served together.  It’s worth your time to read.

I will say this much……. Those who have not served will never fully understand the bonds that develop between those who trusted each other with their lives and futures. Policemen and Firemen have similar experiences.  Wives and girlfriends can’t quite fathom why their ‘significant others’ would leave in the middle of the night to help out a friend whom they hadn’t heard from in years. A late night call, a word from a friend, and that was all it took, because those promises never waned. And thus it’s ever been.

During the American Civil War, an officer of the 47th New York Infantry wrote a number of stories, poems and newspaper clippings that were widely published. Charles G. Halpine wrote under the pseudonym “Miles O’Rielly“, and one of his best works reflects that universal bond between veterans and their comrades.

It is titled “The Same Canteen“.

There are bonds of all sorts in this world of ours,
 Fetters of friendship and ties of flowers,
 And true lover’s knots, I ween;
 The girl and the boy are bound by a kiss,
 But there’s never a bond, old friend, like this,
 We have drank from the same Canteen!It was sometimes water, and  sometimes milk,
 And sometimes apple-jack “fine as silk;”
 But whatever the tipple has been
 We shared it together in bane or bliss,
 And I warm to you, friend, when I think of this,
 We drank from the same Canteen! 
The rich and great sit down to dine,
 They quaff to each other in sparkling wine,
 From glasses of crystal and green;
 But I guess in their golden potations they miss
 The warmth of regard to be found in this,
 We drank from the same Canteen!

We have shared our blankets and tents together,
 And have marched and fought in all kinds of weather,
 And hungry and full we have been;
 Had days of battle and days of rest,
 But this memory I cling to and love the best,
 We drank from the same Canteen!

For when wounded I lay on the center slope,
 With my blood flowing fast and so little hope
 Upon which my faint spirit could lean;
 Oh! then I remember you crawled to my side,
 And bleeding so fast it seemed both must have died,
 We drank from the same Canteen!
That's a fine piece of writing. God Bless all of them.



"Friend to Friend" Gettysburg National Military Park

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5 Responses to “The Bonds Between Veterans”


  1. 1 SCOTT the BADGER
    June 19, 2010 at 19:48

    The bond was well illustrated 66 years ago tonight, when a famous Badger, ( from Hillsboro, WI ) said ” Turn on the lights “, so the planes could find Task Force 58.

    • June 19, 2010 at 23:46

      And he had to do it, too. The US had just dealt a massive blow to the Japanese and shot down hundreds of their airmen and aircraft. they also sank 3 carriers. Had the US allowed it’s own aircraft to be lost at sea due to black out conditions, much of the victory would have been nullified. We’d have had to pull back for a bit to replace all those airwings, and get them all used to working together aboard new commands, etc.

      By risking his carriers to save his airwings, Spruance did the right thing, and kept the pressure on the Japanese.

  2. 3 UltimaRatioRegis
    June 23, 2010 at 01:34

    The old Prussian ballad always brings a lump in the throat and unexplained moisture about the eyes…

    “Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden,
    einen bessren findst du nit..”

    I once had a comrade, a better one you’ll never find….

    • June 23, 2010 at 03:11

      Indeed. “Ich Hat Ein Kamerad” is a wonderful song. All veterans have the same bonds, regardless of the side they fought on.

      Hell, look at Johnny Reb and Billy Yank. That was the only civil war in history where both sides virtually shook hands and went back to their homes and got on with their lives.

      There’s a wonderful article I was reading about one of the annual meetings of Hood’s Texas Brigade. After the meeting was called to order, and the benediction was given, the speaker asked that any of those present who wore “the blue” would please stand, and do them the honor of coming down to the front row to a place of friendship amongst the Confederate Veterans. That same honor was given to Confederate Veterans at meetings of the Grand Army of the Republic.

      The thing about Americans is that when we need to, we can hate like the dickens, but we don’t seem to have the genetic memory that all other nations seem to possess. Thank goodness for that.


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