Sunday, June 24, 2007

Thinking is Dangerous

I have spent most of the past day pondering. That is, contemplating what makes me the person that I am. I have been thinking about three subjects that I am really not too comfortable conversing about.

Number one is Religion! Number two is Politics! And number three is Bigotry!

My thoughts and feelings on these topics are too in-depth to write about in one Blog. Therefore I will address each issue in a separate Blog during the next week.

I am what I believe to be an honest person. I don’t cheat or steal. I will occasionally lie or omit pertinent data to protect a friend and for the reason of not harming their feelings. People that know me say “He’s a stand up guy”. Although I do not value other’s opinions of me, it is a pleasant feeling to know that others think that I am actually a “good person”. I’m not. I’m an insufferable bastard that is set in his ways.

I am an outspoken miserable old man. My next three Blogs will substantiate this statement. Like it or not, I am who I am.

The Beach Bum

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Jar Heads

I read an article on Chicago today that really upset me.

Why did this article get my dander up? Basically, it was for two reasons. First the Marine Corps Sergeant involved should have had better sense, but because he's a Jar Head, he didn't think (his military training taught him to react rather than think). Secondly the DOD should not have any say in limiting a persons “First Amendment Rights”.

The DOD Directive issued in 1996 and renewed in 2003, says “members of the Armed Forces are prohibited from participating in off-post demonstrations when they are on duty, in a foreign country, when their activities constitute a breach of law and order, when violence is likely to result, or when they are in uniform.”

What is the DOD saying? We can’t disagree with the current administrations policy? Are they saying that people who are willing to give up their lives for their country, have also signed away their First Amendment Rights.?

Follow me on this one.

The current oath that a person takes when joining the military is: "I, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Did our beloved President give an order to the military not to protest his War in Iraq? I can just hear him now "I don't care how many of you young people die, as long as you obey my directives".

How many of our soldiers actually know or are taught the military regulations or the Uniform Code of Military Justice? Who in the Marine Corps actually see the DOD Directives? These are guys and gals that are out there doing a job, for their misguided management. They obey and follow orders! For a Marine - that's all there is.

Look at the keywords in the enlistment Oath. “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe the Constitution of the United States gives us the right to protest. If you are supporting the Constitution you are therefore supporting those rights granted in the 1st Amendment.

I openly protested the Viet Nam War, while in the military in the mid 1960’s. My Dad, a WWII Vet was also against that War. He called it “Johnson’s War” and blamed LBJ for killing JFK to prolong the War (but that’s an entire different subject) and I agreed with him, which was a very rare thing for me to do at that time.

What honks me off is that this Marine Sergeant (who obviously served his country well) will get a less than honorable discharge for something that wasn’t fully explained to him (the fact you cannot wear any part of your uniform while protesting the "War in Iraq"). But our military prefers not to explain things to their troops. To our Government they are just expendable bodies (numbers), and this is a shame.

I Support Our Troops!

The Beach Bum

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Friday, June 22, 2007

So It Must Be True

I well remember an old phrase that my Dad often used “You are talking through (or, out of) your hat”. The meaning of this phrase is “to be talking about a subject as if you know a lot about it, when in fact, you know very little or nothing at all.”

This bothers me because I may do this on occasion. I do not take the time to look up the facts. Let’s face it we are lazy people. We have better things to do than to confirm the facts and figures. We rely on the biased media to tell us the truth.

Worst yet we use Wikipedia for our facts and figures.

Don’t get me wrong, like millions of other people, I use Wikipedia. But not for facts and figures! The attitude that “It’s on Wikipedia – so it must be true” scares me. Practically anyone can edit or post an entry on just about any subject to Wikipedia. Stephen Colbert proved this last summer.

Then we also get our information (facts and figures) from the media. Television News Channels drive me to the point insanity. Both Liberal and Conservative news channels tend to distort the news to fit their political agenda. And the political talk shows on cable television are even worse. Do people really believe this crap? I guess so, judging from some of the emails that I receive. I don’t, because I realize that it is only someone’s opinion. And opinions are like assholes – everyone has one.

Opinion is not the reporting of the news; it is simply someone's view on the day’s events. There is nothing wrong with that, if news reporting is not tainted by a person's ideology and the viewer/reader is told that it is just their opinion of the news. But no, we’re told that this is gospel (infallible truth). And many believe it as gospel. Worst yet we repeat it to others as being gospel.

Now, at this point, the misinformation that we have received from the biased media and have passed on to others is growing like a cancer. So and so said this; so it must be true.

If you repeat something enough times people will tend to believe it to be true. For example, I’ve been saying that George W. Bush has been a terrible President for the past 6 years. According to the latest polls people are beginning to believe it! Maybe I’ll make a George W. Bush Wikipedia entry.

Will Rogers facetiously said "Well, all I know is what I read in the papers." Fortunately for Will there was no television or internet at that time!

The Beach Bum

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

600 - Good Company

Last night Sammy Sosa hit his six hundred Home Run. Only four other Major League Baseball players have done so. He’s in good company; Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays.

The fact that he got his 600th Home Run against the team (my team) that he had hit 575 home runs for, is truly ironic.

I’ve always liked Sammy as a player. When the cross town Chicago White Sox gave, and I reiterate the word “gave” him to the Cubs, I was elated. Getting a rising star for someone who once was a good player but who was now a waning “has been” was something unusual for the Cubs front office to do.

Slammin’ Sammy has been accused of using steroids early in his career. And none of us can forget the “corked bat” incident! But I still like him as a player! The Sosa “hop” and the touch of his fingers to his lips and then to his heart when he returned to the dugout, is a classic Baseball moment that will not be forgotten.

Sammy is good for Baseball! I am a lifelong Baseball Fan. He is no longer a Cub, but I still enjoy watching him play the game! To a true fan, the game matters more that the standings or which team a player is playing for.

I want my team (the Cubs) to win and finish in first place and then go to the World Series. But as an old coach once told me; “It’s really not about winning or losing, it’s about enjoyment of playing the game.”

I have learned to enjoy the game!

And as one of my favorite childhood players once said "They throw the ball, I hit it. They hit the ball, I catch it." "Willie Mays"

That about sums up the game of Baseball.

The Beach Bum

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007


A fellow Blogger, that I admire, recently suggested that we post a picture and Blog about the picture that we have posted.

This concept caught my interest!

I have tons of pictures on my computer. Mostly of young naked women. The “Killer Clams” series that I received from a friend in 2001 is still one of my favorites. The clams that are referred to are not of the mollusk variety, but just as edible and tasty.

But I decided not to post these pictures because some would find them as being obscene. How anyone could find pictures of a naked nubile female obscene is beyond my imagination. But I am told that some people do and therefore I refrained from doing so.

Here’s my Picture and my story.

When my son was a pre-teen we spent a lot of time fishing. This was a father-son thing. I enjoy fishing. It is both relaxing and sporting. Pleasant conversations with your fishing partner(s) make it all that much better.

My Grandfather taught me that it was more important to just be fishing than to catch a fish. And that catching a fish, that you could eat, was a bonus.

The picture above is that of my son 3 years ago when he caught a near record Barracuda in the Gulf of Mexico (2 inches short). He fought it for nearly a half hour. If you have ever fought a game fish, such as Marlin or Tarpon, you know how tiring and exasperating this can be. He didn’t even know what he had on his line.

As Barracuda is not an edible fish and it was not a record catch; he released it after the photo was taken. The fish happily swam away!

The Beach Bum

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Monday, June 18, 2007

A Return To Normality

It’s back to normality for me. I have spent the past five days cavorting with a group of my old Army buddies. The members of our group that are still allowed to drink alcoholic beverages consumed them in mass quantities. Given the choice of taking prescription medicines to prolong my life or to continue to drink alcohol and kill myself; I chose the latter. Pleasure is much more important to me at this juncture in my life than keeping myself alive and being totally miserable in doing so.

We spent most of the time telling stories about the time that we spent in Eritrea (Ethiopia, at that time). We had four newcomers to our group this year and we heard a bunch of new tales. Including one about me (extremely exaggerated and embellished), which I emphatically denied. The Tale-Teller was confusing me with another friend, but nonetheless it was a good story.

Unfortunately some of the regular reunion attendees were unable to attend this year or it would have been the largest reunion that we have had in the past five years. We spent a lot of time talking about them and cutting them down (since they were not there to defend themselves). We also signed a Happy Birthday card for Donald Rumsfeld (one of last year's reunion attendees), who will be 75 years old in a few weeks. Some of the comments on the card were hilarious.

At the Saturday Night Banquet we all took turns berating ourselves and others in our group. It was like a Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. When it was my turn, I saluted our fallen comrades with a toast. Somehow I managed to do it without choking up.

Thank you, my Brothers! I had a great time and can’t wait until next year’s reunion, which is already in the planning stages.

The Beach Bum

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

City of Dreams

Yesterday I received a belated birthday gift. It was a book from a good friend who will be visiting me on Thursday, titled “Asmara – Africa’s Secret Modernist City”. It’s a book about Asmara, Eritrea’s Architecture. There is also a DVD called “City of Dreams” available on concerning the architecture of the colonial Italians.

Asmara was the most beautiful city that I had seen when in Africa during the 1960’s. The Italians who occupied the country of Eritrea until the early 1940’s wanted it to be the “New Rome”. In the 1930’s, they sent Architects and construction crews to Asmara. The new buildings were built in the Art Deco style that was popular in Italy at that time. The design of some of these buildings would make Frank Lloyd Wright hold his breath and say “Why didn’t I do that?”

We tend to think about Africa as we see it (or, I my case, had seen it) in the Movies. Before being stationed there in the 1960’s my impressions of Africa were from movies like “The African Queen”, “Mogambo “and “Hatari”, and from pictures in National Geographic Magazine. Representations of Eritrea and Ethiopia were never on film, but I expected it to be the same as what I had seen in the movies. At the time, I thought it was just another African country and they were all the same.

Asmara is a beautiful city and the people living there were beautiful too, especially the women. Several of my Army friends married Eritrean women. I had also considered it (marring) for a brief moment, but decided I was too young and still in love with my girlfriend back home.

This Thursday thru Sunday I will be spending time with friends that I had shared time with at Kagnew Station, Asmara, Eritrea, Ethiopia. We will look at the pictures of the “City Of Dreams” and reminisce. We’ll recall great stories about the time that we had spent that in Asmara.

Most of us now look at the term that we spent there as one of the best times of our lives.

The Beach Bum

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Assualt on the Liberty

Forty years ago today I was sitting in a communications operations center high in the mountains of Eritrea, East Africa. It was a stressful time, as we were in the middle of the 6 Day War and working 12 hours on and 12 hours off with no break days in between.

A friend came running into our room at the Ops Center and told us to go to a certain radio frequency and put it on our speakers. My room (Search and Development) was one of the only rooms with speakers; everyone else had to use headsets plugged into our Collins R-390 receiver's.

The Israelis had just bombed the USS Liberty and what we were listening to was a call for help from the crew. These were Navy guys doing the same job that we did; Communications Intelligence. We could hear yelling and screaming in the background. The words that I remember hearing the most are “We’ve been hit”. It was repeated over and over again.

The crew of the Liberty was primarily a bunch of non-combat geeks, the same as we were up on “the mountain”.

At first we believed that the Arabs did it. This was a logical assumption as Israel was our ally. Why would they attack an American ship that was basically unarmed? Later that night through intelligence sources we found out that it was indeed the Israelis that attacked the Liberty leaving over 30 dead and over 100 wounded.

This was during the Johnson Administration and Secretary of Defense McNamara rushed to cover it up because of all of the problems that we were having in Viet Nam. The Israelis issued a statement saying that they thought the Liberty was an Arab ship. Bull, all US ships are clearly marked and fly our flag high on the mast.

A friend, Jim Ennes, a Liberty survivor, has written an excellent book about the events on June 8, 1967 called “Assault on the Liberty”. He is also quoted in James Bamford’s second book about the No Such Agency – Body of Secrets. Jim's website is at USS Liberty Memorial It’s worth a look!

Previously classified tapes (intercepted) of the Israeli Pilots that attacked the Liberty have now been made public. These tapes inexplicably prove that the Israelis knew that they were attacking an American ship. They saw our flag!

I have received many emails today about the Liberty and about the events that happened 40 years ago today. We (who were in Asmara on that day) all remember the event too vividly; these are memories that will be etched in our minds forever.

I have been accused of being anti-Semitic. I’m not, I am anti-Israeli. Why? Because of the unprovoked attack on the USS Liberty 40 years ago and the loss of many American lives. I will never forget nor forgive the events of June 8, 1967.

The Beach Bum

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Thursday, June 07, 2007


Every year I attend two Reunions.

My family (and old neighborhood friends) Reunion in Chicago is held on the third Saturday in July. It is usually held at the Saint Mary’s Seminary Picnic Grove in Lemont, Illinois. I eagerly look forward to this event.

There is a lot of hugging and kissing plus a lot of good food; I usually grill Italian sausage with peppers. I’ve been told that my peppers are second to none. I use a combination of Red, Green and Yellow peppers. I half cook them the day before in a quality Olive Oil with fresh Garlic and a few Sorrento peppers for zest.

This is usually the only time of the year that I get to spend some time with my family and boyhood friends. It’s a very diverse crowd; my Cousin “the Admiral” calls it the 5 Generation Family Picnic. I am a member of the “Third Generation” or perhaps the Second now. I am not too sure.

The second annual Reunion that I attend is usually called “The Blast” or “The Spookfest”. This year it is being held here at Treasure Island, Florida. Last year it was held on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The theme of this reunion is “Let’s tell the most outlandish story about the time that we spent in the small African Nation of Eritrea”. In other words, we just sit around Bullshit and enjoy one another’s company. We’ll reminisce about what we call the “Good Old Days”. The wives who attend will pardon us for our ribald stories and our bad language.

Yes, we are a bunch of old Army Buddies. As one of the members of our group once said we are “A Band of Brothers”. And we actually treat our group as brothers and often address each other as Brother. Being at Kagnew Station was like being in a Fraternity House in the early 1960's. We may fight, we may argue and we often disagree; but no matter what, you are still my brother and I love you. And we are always there for both moral and financial support of our brethren.

I knew most of these guys for less than 18 months of my life. What makes these friendships endure for 40 years? I have shared a lot of good times with many people, but these guys, my Brothers, are very special to me at this stage in my life. I look very much forward to seeing them when they invade my turf next week.

I love my family and “my brothers” and eagerly anticipate seeing them once again this year.

The Beach Bum

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Comments on Comments

“In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” I cannot sleep. I ate a hardy dinner at 7 this evening and made the tragic mistake of lying on the couch to watch television. I slept until ten. A three hour nap! Now I am wide awake. Nothing to do. nowhere to go and I can’t sleep.

What better time to respond to comments that have been made on this Blog!

Rather than posting comments to a comment, I decided to write this Blog instead.

To Geoff - I resent being equated to Jerry Seinfeld, but thanks for your comment!

To my Cousin, The Admiral – I was taller and bigger than you were when I was 11 years old and you were 15, so I know that you couldn’t have possibly picked me up and put me into that Garbage Can.

To “The Curmudgeon” who has twice commented on my “Stella” post: I have been following this case closely via the Washington Post. In my opinion it’s insanity at the highest level. Why does our court system put up with this BS? I am happy to see that the Chungs have not yet given up and have not moved back to Korea.

To “Romulus” concerning my post “Si Habla Espanole”: I recently received this in an email and checked it out on “Snopes” it’s for real –

Theodore Roosevelt's ideas on Immigrants and being an American in 1907.

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

To my dear friend and “brother in arms” “Raymond”, who has commented on several of my Blogs - We are kindred spirits, although we may not always agree. I do feel sorry and have regrets about things that I have said to “my brothers and friends”. Fortunately they still love me. I’ll see you next week!

And finally to the most prolific commenter to my Blog – Richard Feder from Ft. Lee – Sometimes I wonder why I continue to write this Blog. Why do I waste my time with this “nonsense”? Thank you for you encouragement and your kind and not so kind comments. BTW did you get laid when reading Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliette?

The Beach Bum

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Yesterday, I spent an inordinate time on the telephone and answering emails. It was the anniversary of the day of my birth.

This is a day that I usually spend reflecting on my past year. Some people do this on New Years Day; I do it on my birthday. That is my New Year. On this day I make my resolutions for the next year.

About three or four years ago I made a compilation CD on my computer (I’ve titled it the Eclectic Collection.) These were all songs that once had a special meaning for me. At some point in my life these were relevant songs that pertained to that particular segment of my life. I’m a very nostalgic person, therefore I enjoy reminiscing. I associate popular music with the events in my life. Each song will bring back a vivid memory of a person, place or thing.

I spent the entire day in “my cave” suffering from a stomach hangover, drinking Bloody Mary’s and Lite Beer while listening to some of my favorite music.

The first cut on the CD is Annie Lennox’s version of “The Whiter Shade of Pale”, I also have the same song by Procol Harem, but I like her version better. It was featured on the sound track of the Movie "The Net". This song reminds of a High School friend who died serving our country in Viet Nam; it was his favorite song.

The next cut is “Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum; it reminds me of my best friend in Maryland, who passed away at 54 years old in 1998. He loved that song!

Other songs on the CD include “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (not by the original group, but by Sixpence, None the Richer), “You Sang to Me” by Marc Anthony, “I am Like a Bird” by Nelly Furtado, “Drops of Jupiter” by Train, “I Try” by Macy Gray, Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” and “Long Tall Glasses” by Leo Sayer.

All of this music holds special meanings and remembrances. As I have said before, I prefer to live in the past rather than in the future.

But the two songs that touch me the most are the last two on the CD. “With Arms Wide Open” by Creed and a golden oldie by Marmalade, “Reflections of my Life”.

From Creed –
“Well I just heard the news today
It seems my life is going to change
I closed my eyes, begin to pray
Then tears of joy stream down my face.”

From Marmalade -
“The changing of sunlight to moonlight
Reflections of my life, oh, how they fill my eyes.
The greetings of people in trouble
Reflections of my life, oh, how they fill my eyes.”

The Beach Bum

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

I’ve been getting very nostalgic today. My Birthday is tomorrow, so I am allowed to do this sort of thing. Yesterday, I spent the day on the beach ogling young women. I thoroughly enjoy thinking about the “good old days”. The days of my youth were uncomplicated. They were days of freedom, days of learning and days of simple enjoyment of life.

This morning I received a call from an “old friend” (The Captain - he’ll be 66 on the 4th of July) wishing me a happy birthday (he remembered). When were young, we live in the same neighborhood in Chicago. Although he is a few years older than I, we became friends when I drove a softball into his father’s car windshield while playing street ball.

Prior to that time my cousin (AKA the Admiral), the Captain and their other friends were well known for torturing me. They once put me into a 55 gallon trash can and then later dropped me into a Coal Bin at an abandoned warehouse. Picking on the little (and I was not so little) kid was fun. But this is the price that I paid for hanging with the older guys. I was 11 or 12 at the time and they were in their teens. To me, it was well worth the price of being abused.

Today, I reminisce on the “good old days”, tomorrow I’ll reflect about the past year (as I do on all my birthdays). Tonight, I’ll be staggering up to the Bar to see my old boss, who is also a dear friend, and will usher in the anniversary of my birth at 1:29 AM.

The Beach Bum

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Bard

I just received an unexpected and interesting call from a female acquaintance that lives in Saint Petersburg. She got my number from a friend that I had worked with for 6 years.

What was most interesting about the call is that she remembered that it is going to be my birthday in 3 days. She also recalled a conversation that we had some years ago about my love for the theater and Shakespeare. She was inviting out to see Othello this Tuesday; the anniversary of my birth. I told her that I would think about it and would give her a call back.

I was being honest when I said “I would think about it”. Usually when I say that I will think about it, it means no way in Hell!

The last live theater production that I saw was Cats in the mid 1980’s. The last time I saw a production of a Shakespeare play was in the 1960’s before I went into the Army.

In High School, I hated my first forced reading of Shakespeare. It was Macbeth and was required reading in my first semester sophomore English class. What a drag for a 14 year old. What tedious reading, almost as bad as having to read Thoreau’s Walden!

It was announced in the syllabus of the second semester sophomore English class that we would be reading two more plays by the “Bard of Avon”. I had never seen so many frowns on the faces of my classmates (except those from the girls in my Freshman Biology class when we were told that we would be dissecting a Frog).

The first play we read was Hamlet. I liked this play much better than I did Macbeth. It was probably because the key quotes were much easier to memorize.

The second was Twelfth Night, or What you Will. After two tragedies, a comedy was a refreshing read. As an added bonus our teacher offered to chaperon us at a local production of this play in the Chicago suburbs. It was on a Saturday afternoon and I had much better things to do on a Saturday afternoon. However my parents told me I was going on this field trip or I would be restricted. It was a tough choice, but I went.

Seeing Shakespeare preformed live is nothing similar to just reading the play. There is so much more emotion in the words that he had written. Even mediocre Shakespearean actors can make your heart jump and flutter. Your eyes are riveted on the stage and you wait for the next line to be spoken. You begin to understand why Shakespeare was as highly acclaimed as a writer as he was.

Seeing Shakespeare preformed live is like eating peanuts. You can’t stop at just one. It is a good idea to read the play before you see it. Just to know the characters and their motives. But the words mean nothing unless they are spoken and when you hear them spoken you will be enthralled. You must remember that Shakespeare wrote them to be preformed, not read.

My favorites are his historical plays and his comedies. One of my favorites is Henry V. An excellent production of this play was brought to the screen by Kenneth Branagh; it was almost as exciting as seeing it performed live in the theater.

When Harry the King delivers his emotion packed speech to his men before Battle of Agincourt, it reminds me of my time spent in the military and the lasting friendship and brotherhood that I had established:

We would not die in that man's company that fears his fellowship to die with us. This day is called the feast of Crispian. He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd, and rouse him at the name of Crispian. He that shall live this day, and see old age, will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, and say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.' Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, and say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.' Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot, but he'll remember, with advantages, what feats he did that day. Then shall our names, familiar in his mouth as household words- Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester- Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red. This story shall the good man teach his son; and Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by, from this day to the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile, this day shall gentle his condition; and gentlemen in England now-a-bed shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

The Beach Bum

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