The Corner

U.S. History Un-Sissified

On my little thread about the sissyfication of U.S. history–now taught with

all the battles removed, apparently–reader David Churchill Barrow offer

sthis little gem:

The practical effects of this scandal can be seen in the general public

failure to appreciate the military miracles of Afghanistan and Iraq. In the

2 1/2 years of this war we have lost less men than we did in one week of

Vietnam. Our casualties are less so far than the first ten minutes or so of

a typical Civil War battle, and less than the first couple of hours of a

major WWII landing. To put it in perspective, take the tiny, square mile

chunk of coral called Betio in The Tarawa atoll. It was assaulted by

regiments of the 2nd Marine Division on Nov. 20,1943. Thirty six hours,

four Medals of Honor, and almost 1000 dead Marines later, the Stars and

Stripes flew over the airfield. Leon Uris wrote a poem about it, which can

be sung to the tune of “Old Smokey”:


From out of New Zealand, the Gyrenes set sail,

to find an atoll where the Japs got their mail.

On an island called Helen, they staked out their claim;

and the Second Division won e’er lasting fame.

Dug deep in the coral, way under the sand,

five thousand Japs waited, for them to land.

The 2nd hit blue beach, they hit with a thud.

The 2nd hit blue beach, all covered with blood.

The 2nd hung on to the ground they had made.

All night they hid down ‘neath the seawall and prayed.

The 6th they hit green beach, and landed by noon.

They waded past buddies killed in the lagoon.

The 8th came ashore, boys, o’er buddies who’d paid.

And killed all the Japs for the misery they’d made.

A thousand white crosses to tell of their laurel.

A thousand Gyrenes lay asleep in the coral.

Oh come now you mothers, you sweethearts, you wives;

shed no tear for Gyrenes who laid down their dear lives.

On an island called Helen, they staked out their claim.

And the Second Division won e’er lasting fame.


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