When Irish Eyes Are Crying.

Imagine you are the child of a World War 2 veteran – not too hard, for a lot of us. Imagine growing up with that knowledge, and with all the attendant feelings. Pride, respect, and so many others, right?

Try “shame” and “disgrace”.

In 1939, when Great Britain declared war on Nazi Germany, Ireland remained neutral, and did so throughout the war. Thousands of Irish men went off to war under the British flag, willing to sacrifice all for their country. And when they came home, they rightfully expected to be welcomed. Instead, the Irish government labelled them as deserters. They were banned from holding government jobs, and their state-sponsored pensions were withheld. These brave men were held in contempt, and their families shamed, all because the neutral government in Ireland thought they should have stayed home to “help defend against invasion”, an increasingly unlikely scenario after the 1941 invasion of Russia.

But there is progress. The government of Ireland issued an official apology last year, and today, the Irish Defence Minister will announce official details of a full government pardon, expected to pass through the parliament and be signed into law in a few days.

To the men already dead, this will have no meaning. But for those still alive, and more importantly for the families of these brave men, it will mean the end of a wrong that has lasted for far too long.

No matter how you feel about war, I urge you to take to heart the words of Lt. General Harold “Hal” Moore. “Hate war, but love the warrior.” It is, truly, the least we can do.

For more information, please see the story at the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22425684

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25 Responses to When Irish Eyes Are Crying.

  1. Teeny Bikini says:

    Oh, I do agree about loving the warrior. Where would we be without these selfless individuals?

    • It boggles the mind to even consider that question. Almost as badly as it boggles to consider our own vets today are waiting years for their benefits. It’s a pity we ask so much, then dismiss those who answer so callously. (I forget the name of the poem, but Kipling, using the term “Tommy’ as a derogative, wrote “It’s ‘Tommy’ this and ‘Tommy’ that and chuck ‘im out, the brute/But it’s ‘saviour of his country’ when the guns begin to shoot.”)

  2. BrainRants says:

    Sounds about like the US from 1965 through 1973, except with an official stamp of the government. Wait, this is my ‘inside’ voice, right?

    • Elyse says:

      That’s what I was gonna say!

      • BrainRants says:

        At least we’ve grown up a bit since then.

      • Like I told ‘Rants, don’t use your indoor voice on this. Shout it from the hilltops. Whether Ireland in the 40s, the US in the 60s and 70s, or the VA today, we should be sufficiently advanced as a race that, if we’re still gonna fight, we take care of and honour those who do that fighting.
        (Dang it, you guys are gettin’ my blood all riled up! Gonna have to start calling ME “Rants”! 😀 )

    • No, it’s not, and it shouldn’t be. We should be yelling against this type of crap from the rooftops. VA benefits requests so badly backlogged, that the weight of the folders is causing a building’s floors to sag? REALLY?!?
      Go ahead, use your outdoor voice. Saves wear and tear on the knuckles. 😉

  3. fasab says:

    Well said. Hate war but love the warrior is great advice. The Irish defense against invasion excuse was a lie. The political administration in Ireland was pro Nazi, in fact recently released official documents show that President Douglas Hyde and Prime Minister de Valera offered condolences to Nazi Germany’s representative in Dublin over the death of Hitler – a time when full details of the Holocaust were known.

    • Not only that, but there were plans to assist the IRA with weapons and radios from the German Army, through the ambassador’s office. Add that to the German-encouraged “Easter uprising” of 1916, and the Republic’s government doesn’t come off looking too shiny, does it?

  4. tom says:

    A part of history I missed. Thanks for the info.

    • Glad to oblige. Be sure to stop by this coming Saturday. I’ll have a new post about a forgotten battle to throw “Attu”. (That’s all the clues you get. 😉 )

  5. benzeknees says:

    There haven’t been too many wars I have agreed with, but I always respect the people who go & fight for their country.

  6. aFrankAngle says:

    Great advice …. plus, thanks for the Irish story – something I didn’t know.

    • I knew of Ireland’s somewhat shaky neutrality, and that Irish soldiers served with the Army (an, I believe, the RAF and RN as well), but not that the government had treated them so shabbily. It’s amazing how much there is still to learn about such a well-documented war – and how often the soldiers are denied the respect they earned at such a terrible cost.
      Thanks much!

  7. Kavita Joshi says:

    very strong message you have given dear..thanks a lot for sharing I can feel my heart wet with this thinking about those people who had to go through this

  8. Just to get a discussion going, I will hold an opposing view to “Hate war, but love the warrior.”
    1) If people hate war, I would assume they want to prevent future wars.
    2) One way to achieve this would be to make military service less respected. Hopefully, less people would sign up.
    3) Another way would be for people to stop serving voluntarily.
    4) Without warriors, there ain’t much of a war left. I dare say that without the patriotic rush into the US military from 2001 onward, which for a few years practically solved the military’s recruitment problems (both regarding numbers and education of those signing up – full disclosure: I worked as a civilian lawyer for the US Army JAG Corps in 2001/2002), the military would have been stretched too thin to be deployed in two large Middle Easter countries for 10 years and counting.
    Now, I personally like warriors because I also approve of war. I think war is sometimes a good solution to grave problems. But for those who “hate war” as the quote says, this sounds mighty illogical.

    • Well, I’ll give you that “hate war” is a VERY absolutist statement, so probably “hate MOST wars” is better, especially where war is simply used as a lazy extension of politics. Yes, there have been “necessary” wars like the defeat of Nazism – though if I wanted to be a right royal little wanker, I could pick about a dozen points between 1933 and 1939 where the war could have been avoided, or significantly reduced in its’ destructiveness. (Sorry, I’m not quite as sharp on the Pacific theatre.) I will call you out on your 4th point, though – the Army started having problems getting enough manpower in, especially around the later half of 2004, and relaxed recruiting qualifications so that minor criminals and some folks who couldn’t read actually got welcomed aboard. Whether that proves for good or ill, time will tell. And even during time periods when it wasn’t “cool” to be in the military, there were still plenty of people willing to sign up – I remember parades in the mid 1980s downtown Chicago, where the pro-military folk only outnumbered the protesters about 1.5 to 1 or 2 to 1, so even if not widely respected, some people will always feel the call to arms to serve their country. Heck, I came within 5 days of joining the Army or Air Force myself in 1985, when there were congratulatory protest-parties going on, celebrating bringing the Vietnam war to an end 10 years earlier!
      But hey – thanks for the thought-provoking and challenging comment. We’re gonna have to sit down and cross virtual swords one of these days! (Unless you want to come visit scenic rural Ohio? 😉 )

  9. Thanks for sharing this one, John. I’m so glad they’ve gotten an apology, finally, although it should never have come to this. It’s sort of like if the Flying Tigers or the Eagle Squadrons in the RAF had been singled out as traitors or deserters.

    • Thanks for those great examples. I can understand the Irish government wanting to remain neutral, and keeping its’ men home. But in light of your examples, and espcially the already-standing example of the Lafayette Escadrille in WW1, to call these men “deserters”, with all the attendant negative connotations that word brings, is just unconscionable. That it’s taken this long just to get an apology, and to know how few will be alive when the pardons are finally issued, is truly a tragedy.

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