A Shakespearean Glance at the People and Issues of the Day.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Henry IV's Lady Percy and Military Families


Hotspur, that glory-driven bundle of martial energy introduced in Henry IV, Part I, now lies dead at the hands of Henry's son Hal, the future Henry V. Hotspur was spurred to rebellion by his father Northumberland. Once hostilities began, however, and like the democrats within the US Congress who voted for war only to seek a later retreat, Northumberland withheld his support from Hotspur, leading to his defeat and death. Here is Hotspur's widow, Lady Percy, calling on her father-in-law in Act II scene iii of Henry IV, Part Deux:

Lady P: "The time was, Father, that you broke your word,
When you were more endeared to it than now,
When your own Percy, when my heart's dear Harry,
Threw many a northward look to see his father
Bring up his powers; but he did long in vain.
Who then persuaded you to stay at home?"

The Learning Channel (TLC in your cable guide) offers a show entitled American Homecoming, which follows the domestic travails of military families as they separate, serve and reunite. One recent broadcast followed the family of Kevin and Dawn White. In the face of a recent diagnosis of Crohn's disease, Mrs. White must watch her husband leave for Iraq. Dawn's parents step up to assist her at home. Kevin, while fighting the war, becomes pen pals to a (US-based) fourth grade class. We viewers are treated to his homecoming and his visit to the school children with whom he has corresponded, and who are some of the very few Americans who will be receiving unbiased reporting on the events in Iraq.

Meanwhile Lady Percy, and all who would benefit from the raising of democracy and hope in the middle east, and all who will suffer in its continued absence, responds to Northumberland and to the democrats in Congress who continue their morale-defeating dirge:

"There were two honors lost, your and your son's.
For yours, the God of heaven brighten it!
For his, it stuck upon him, as the sun
In the gray vault of heaven, and by his light
Did all the chivalry of England move
To do brave acts. He was indeed the glass
Where in the youth did dress themselves."

Another American Homecoming broadcast follows the reunion of John Keith, who lost his leg from a mortar attack, with his troop and with Christian Moretti, who Keith believes saved his life. Keith's wife is also on hand to thank Moretti.

Here's another: Sergeant Corey Johnston while serving in Iraq, learns that a 5 year-old Iraqi boy, Rebaz, is in need of heart surgery for the same malady that took Rebaz's brother's life. After finding out that Rebaz' older brother had died from the same condition, and with help from Johnson's mother and the local community, Rebaz and his father move into her home in Iowa and Rebaz receives the life-saving surgery. Corey meets Rebaz for the first time only upon his homecoming.

Of course, these are the more heart-warming stories of our military's survival and return. Our fallen soldiers, on whose sacrifice a generation of peace may ensue (in the event that victory can be attained in the teeth of democratic party resistance) require something more than a television show can provide. Lady Percy's words, spoken for her fallen husband, speak movingly for the last full measure of devotion that they have offered us:

"In diet, in affections of delight,
In military rules, humors of blood,
He was the mark and glass, copy and book,
That fashioned others. And him, O wondrous him!
O, miracle of men! Him did you leave,
Second to none, unseconded by you,
To look upon the hideous god of war
In disadvantage, to abide a field
Where nothing but the sound of Hotspur's name
Did seem defensible. So you left him.
Never, O never do his ghost the wrong
To hold your honor more precise and nice
With others than with him!...".

politicalteen, a recommendable blog, has this link of interest.

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