Thursday, July 29, 2010

In Equal Sacrifice

On this day. July 29. in 2006, Sgt. Christian Williams, Cpl. Phillip Baucus, Lance Cpl. Tony Butterfield and Lance Cpl. Jason Hansen of the 3rd LAR Marines were killed in action in an insurgent attack. They gave their lives for America, and for liberty for the Iraqi people. Part of their stories can be found here and here.

These two poems by Robert Frost are from his great work "A Boy's Will", written in 1915. They seem appropriate for today. The first "In Equal Sacrifice", of an ancient Scottish Hero, tells of honor and right. The second, "The Tuft of Flowers" leads toward faith, and perhaps healing. To those who love these men, we honor your unfathomable sacrifice as well, and pray for your recovered joy.

Because their most precious reason for service was to protect and preserve a joyful and happy life for their mothers, their brothers and sisters, their wives, their families and the friends they loved so deeply. May God bless you with healing, in their golden memory.

In Equal Sacrifice

THUS of old the Douglas did:
He left his land as he was bid
With the royal heart of Robert the Bruce
In a golden case with a golden lid,

To carry the same to the Holy Land; 5
By which we see and understand
That that was the place to carry a heart
At loyalty and love’s command,

And that was the case to carry it in.
The Douglas had not far to win 10
Before he came to the land of Spain,
Where long a holy war had been

Against the too-victorious Moor;
And there his courage could not endure
Not to strike a blow for God 15
Before he made his errand sure.

And ever it was intended so,
That a man for God should strike a blow,
No matter the heart he has in charge
For the Holy Land where hearts should go. 20

But when in battle the foe were met,
The Douglas found him sore beset,
With only strength of the fighting arm
For one more battle passage yet—

And that as vain to save the day 25
As bring his body safe away—
Only a signal deed to do
And a last sounding word to say.

The heart he wore in a golden chain
He swung and flung forth into the plain, 30
And followed it crying ‘Heart or death!’
And fighting over it perished fain.

So may another do of right,
Give a heart to the hopeless fight,
The more of right the more he loves; 35
So may another redouble might

For a few swift gleams of the angry brand,
Scorning greatly not to demand
In equal sacrifice with his
The heart he bore to the Holy Land. 40

The Tuft of Flowers

I WENT to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.

The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the leveled scene.

I looked for him behind an isle of trees; 5
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.

But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been,—alone,

‘As all must be,’ I said within my heart,
‘Whether they work together or apart.’ 10

But as I said it, swift there passed me by
On noiseless wing a ’wildered butterfly,

Seeking with memories grown dim o’er night
Some resting flower of yesterday’s delight.

And once I marked his flight go round and round, 15
As where some flower lay withering on the ground.

And then he flew as far as eye could see,
And then on tremulous wing came back to me.

I thought of questions that have no reply,
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry; 20

But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,

A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.

I left my place to know them by their name, 25
Finding them butterfly weed when I came.

The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
By leaving them to flourish, not for us,

Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him.
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim. 30

The butterfly and I had lit upon,
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,

That made me hear the wakening birds around,
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,

And feel a spirit kindred to my own; 35
So that henceforth I worked no more alone;

But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;

And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach. 40

‘Men work together,’ I told him from the heart,
‘Whether they work together or apart.'

Semper Fi and God Bless you, Christian, Phillip, Tony and Jason, and all the 3rd LAR.


  1. This day and Aug 20th will be days I never forget. Your accounts remind me of those great Marines I met in Rawah in 2006. Thank you for not forgetting them. Navy EOD Tech

  2. If we were ever in need of Heroes, we have so many to remember and look up to now - those who gave everything, those who were wounded or suffered, and all of you who serve.

    We're gonna need you all at home more than ever - bringing honor back to our government, our businesses and our hometowns, serving on our school boards, leading our communities and businesses. America is still great, and all of you made her greater still.

    God bless you Sir, and protect you.



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