Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Extraordinary & Peculiar Aptitude

"The basic reason for German failure at the Marne, 'the reason that transcends all others,' said Kluck afterward, was 'the extraordinary and peculiar aptitude of the French soldier to recover quickly. That men will let themselves be killed where they stand, that is a well-known thing and counted on in every plan of battle. But that men who have retreated for ten days, sleeping on the ground and half dead with fatigue, should be able to take up their rifles and attack when the bugle sounds, is a thing upon which we never counted. It was a possibility not studied in our war academy.'" -Barbara W. Tuchman, The Guns of August-

What is inside of you? What will keep you going in the face of certain defeat? When everyone else would be willing and wanting to quit - what will keep you fighting? In the face of your enemies can you keep moving forward despite their advantages? The story of the fighting on the Marne in WWI is incredible to me. Not because the Allies won decisively (they didn't) and not because the Germans gave up a chance to end the war within 40 days of starting it (they did) - but because in the face of certain defeat the French (and their British allies) pulled together to display the needed "cran" (as the French call it) to fight back. The Germans were unprepared for it, the British had to be surprised by it. That is the spirit that I want to capture within me. That is the spirit I want to display when facing odds stacked against me. When the going is tough, I want to know that deep within me - there is a base level of cran that will keep me going. Will I stand or will I falter? Only in times of trouble, can I really find out.


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