Sunday, September 11, 2005

Learning from our Mistakes

Wretchard on Belmont Club was talking about how we learn from our mistakes. That is most certainly true. His idea that we learn from our mistakes certainly was the case in WWII. From torpedoes that ran too deep, or didn't explode when they hit ships, a rescue effort to save Wake Island that would be a comedy of errors, if it hadn't led to the horror of brave Marine defenders of Wake, suffering 4 years in Japanese prisons, (those who survived). WWII is full of our mistakes.

To read the history of our efforts in WWII, is to wonder how we had a chance. Invading Guadalcanal, the Navy commander bugs out, after the most incompetent guard duty ever performed by any military force, in the battle of Savo Island.

We had U.S. tanks that were no match for Nazi tanks they faced. The first major battle in Tunisia, the German Army whipped the green Americans at Kasserine.

There were American towns that refused to turn their lights out, while Nazi subs used them to help sink American tankers sailing unprotected along the coast.

The useless invasion of Peleliu, where victory added nothing to the war effort, except add 10,000 American casualties, and 14,000 dead Japanese, surely qualifies as a mistake.

I could go on for pages, true screw-ups that killed thousands. Today, each would be a headline of "American Military mistakes".

Those mistakes taught us. Mistakes at Wake taught us, mistakes at Coral Sea taught us, and helped us win the battle of Midway, we learned from our mistakes. By Okinawa, they were the best.

We make mistakes today. The more you attempt, the more mistakes you will make. A coward never rises to speak, so he never makes a mistake. The brave man opens his mouth in the face of the mob, knowing his words cannot be prefect, but willing to try. Teddy Roosevelt's comments about the man in the arena are appropriate.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
You find the entire speech,(given April 23,1910 in France!)at:

Today, in response to the horrors of the hurricane, the battle in Iraq, it seems so easy for so many to simply criticize, without even offering evidence that it was possible to do more. A category 5 hurricane was going to do major damage. It offered little time to prepare, it is so easy to criticize, I ask forgiveness if in my ignorance, I criticize rather than try to help.

War kills people. It is so easy to simply say, don't fight, but it takes two to make a peace. Only one to make a war. The people of Poland in 1939, wanted peace, Hitler gave them war. In 1914, and again in 1940, peaceful Belgium had war thrust upon it, it didn't ask for it, it came unasked.

I thank those willing to fight not just those who use terror, but all who would prevent people from being free. Like the heroes of flight 93, sometime you have to fight evil. They too didn't look for a fight, but they were prepared when evil boarded the plane with them.


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