Saturday, June 25, 2011
135 Years Ago Today
As with most things in life (all things), the truth is somewhere in between. If the jingoistas of the 21st century only knew how bad these guys had it back then, they wouldn't be so strident. Soldiers today have it much easier. Soldiers of 1876 had no telephones, let alone Skype, iChat, Email, Smart Phones, Digital Cameras, and Video Cameras. Certainly the food was worse as were the living arrangements and pay. I'd have to wonder how today's men and women (there were none in service then) would fare against an aboriginal adversary under less than modern conditions.
Still we see parallels. Soldiers were used as a tool of foreign policy (remember, these were territories, not states and the indians were considered part of a their own nation). No matter what Custer or any other soldier thought about the Indian, he had a job to do. On this day in June, 1876, there were missteps, screw-ups, and the results at this point are history and far too lengthy to go into here. So on this day in June, how do we judge such men? How will we judge our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan 135 years hence? Will revisionism strike again?
George Armstrong Custer by all accounts was an overachiever. While graduating last in his class at West Point, he proved himself in the Civil War and became the "Boy General". The take away here is that he delivered, which is the lynchpin of leadership. Under promise, over deliver, or to put it another way, don't write a check with your mouth that your ass can't cover. Ultimately, his risk taking caught up with him, in a big way.
On this day in June, 2011, I salute George Armstrong Custer, that crazy bastard that gave his all on that hill in Montana. We still need crazy bastards like him from time to time. It keeps the shit merry-go-round moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, we have become a society of effete diletantes that would rather sell their mother in a back room deal than put any skin in the game and hence, are poorly suited to real leadership, especially in bad times, because they are more concerned about themselves than anything or anyone else. What they deliver is perception, not always reality and that is the politicalization of modern society. Look behind the curtain and see.
So, was he a glory hunting nut job that died not soon enough, or a sacrificial lamb to the barbaric tribes and a true american hero? You tell me.
Thank you for reading this blog.