Monday, July 31, 2006


Not much on the net about our beloved General Astray but I hope this photo does him justice and here are a few facts from Wikipedia....

On September 2 of that same year, King Alfonso XIII conferred command of the new regiment on Lieutenant Colonel of Infantry José Millán Astray, chief proponent of its establishment. Milan Astray was an able soldier but an eccentric and extreme personality. His style and attitude would become part of the mystique of the Legion. On September 20 the first recruit joined the new Legion. This date is celebrated yearly.
The initial make-up of the regiment was that of a headquarters unit and three battalions (known as
Banderas or flags). Each battalion was in turn made up of a headquarters company, two rifle companies and a machine gun company. The regiment's initial location was at the Cuartel del Rey en Ceuta on the Plaza de Colón. At its height, during the Spanish Civil War, the legion consisted of 18 banderas, plus a tank bandera, an assault engineer bandera and a Special Operations Group. Banderas 12 through 18 were considered independent units and never served as part of the tercios.
Francisco Franco was one of the founding members of the Legion and the unit's second-in-command. The Legion fought in Morocco in the War of the Rif (to 1926). Together with the Regulares (Moorish colonial troops), the Legion made up the Spanish Army of Africa. In 1934 both units of the Legion and the Regulares were brought to Spain by the new Republican Government to help put down a workers revolt in Asturias.
Under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel
Juan Yagüe the Army of Africa played an important part in the Spanish Civil War on the Nationalist side. The professionalism of both the Legion and the Regulares gave Franco's Nationalists a significant initial advantage over the less well trained Republican forces. The Army of African remained the elite spearhead of the Nationalist armies throughout the Civil War. Following the Nationalist victory in 1939, the Legion was reduced in size and returned to its bases in Spanish Morocco. When Morocco gained its independence in 1956 the Legion continued in existance as part of the garrison of the remaining Spanish enclaves and territories in North Africa.
On
June 17, 1970, legion units opened fire and killed eleven pro-independence demonstrators at the Zemla quarters of El-Aaiun in the Western Sahara, (then still the Spanish Sahara). The incident, which came to be called the Zemla Intifada, had a significant influence on pushing the Sahrawi anticolonial movement into embrarking on an armed struggle which still goes on up to the present, though Spain has long since abandoned the territory and handed it over to Morocco.
Through the course of the Legion's history Spaniards have made up the majority of its members, with foreigners accounting for 25 percent or less. During the Riff War of the early 1920s most of the Foreigners serving with the Legion were Spanish speaking Latin Americans. After
1987 it stopped accepting foreigners altogether and changed its name to the Spanish Legion.
In the
2000s, after the abandonment of conscription, the Spanish Army is again accepting foreigners from select nationalities. The Legion today accepts native Spanish speakers (mostly from Central and South America, but even from countries like Germany) between ages of 18 and 28, be they male or female.
In recent years the Spanish Legion was involved in
Bosnia as part of the SFOR. It also took part in the Iraq War, deploying in Najaf alongside El Salvadorean troops, until the new Spanish government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero fulfilled its electoral promises by withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq. The Legion units deployed in Iraq were involved in several combats against the insurgency. In 2005 the Legion was deployed in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Stabilisation Force (ISAF).
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Esprit de corps
Millán Astray provided the Legion with a distinctive spirit and symbolism intended to evoke Spain's
Imperial and Christian traditions. For instance, the Legion adopted a regimental unit called the tercio in memory of the sixteenth century Spanish infantry formations that had toppled nations and terrorized the battlefields of Europe in the days of Charles V. Millán-Astray also revived the Spaniard's ancient feud with the Moors and portrayed his men first as crusaders on an extended Reconquista against the Islamic civilization; and later as the saviours of Spain warding off the twin evils of Communism and democratic liberalism.
The Legion's customs and traditions include:
Its members, regardless of rank, are titled caballero legionario ("knight legionnaire"). When women became admitted, they were titled damas legionarias ("lady legionnaire").
Legionnaires consider themselves novios de la muerte ("death bridegrooms").
When in trouble, a legionnaire shouts ¡A mí la Legión! ("To me the Legion!"). Those within earshot are bound to help him regardless of the circumstances. In practice, Legionnaires are never supposed to abandon a comrade on the battlefield; they must try to help him until all have perished, if necessary.
Contrary to usual military practice, Legionnaires are allowed to sport
beards and can wear their shirts open on the chest. They are also allowed tattoos, especially the Legion Shield, or typically depict scenes of war. From its establishment the Legion was noted for its plain and simple uniforms, in contrast to the colourful dress uniforms still worn by the Peninsular regiments of the Spanish Army until the overthrow of the Monarchy in 1932. This was part of the cult of austerity favoured by a unit that considered itself on more or less continual active service.
The Legion's
march step is faster than the Spanish military standard, 160-190 in contrast to the Army's 90 steps per minute.
During the
Holy Week processions, the paso carried by legionnaires is held not on the shoulder but on their extended arms.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Miguel de Unamuno

"The man of flesh and blood; the one who is born, suffers and dies - above all, who dies; the man who eats and drinks and plays and sleeps and thinks and wills; the man who is seen and is heard; the brother, the real brother." Miguel de Unamuno (from The Tragic Sense of Life, 1913)


Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo was born in Bilbao as the third of six children of Félix Unamuno, a proprietor of a bakery shop, and Salomé de Jugo, who was also his niece. When his father died Unamuno was brought up by an uncle. In his childhood he witnessed during the siege of Bilbao the violence between traditionalist and progressive forces. This experience left deep traces in his political thinking. Unamuno studied in his native city at the Colegio de San Nicolás and the Instituto Vizacaíno. In 1880 he entered the University of Madrid, where he studied philosophy and letters, receiving his Ph.D. four years later. Unamuno's dissertation dealt with the origin and prehistory of his Basque ancestors.
Unamuno's early years were deeply religious but in Madrid he started to visit the Ateneo, sometimes called the blasphemy center of the city. In its library he read works of liberal writers. After completing his doctorate Unamuno worked as a private tutor in Bilbao, where he also founded with his friends the socialist journal La Lucha de Clases. From Bilbao he moved to Salamanca, to assume the chair of Greek at the University. In 1891 he married Concepción Lizárraga Ecénnarro; they had ten children. In 1896-97 he went through a religious crisis, which shattered his belief in finding a rational explanation of God and meaning in life. From universal philosophical constructions and outer reality he turned his attention to the individual person, inner spiritual struggles in the face of questions of death and immortality. Unamuno once stated: "Wisdom is to science what death is to life or, if you will, wisdom is to death what science is to life." Seeing that reason leads to despair, Unamuno concluded that one must abandon all pretence of rationalism and embrace faith.
In 1901 Unamuno became rector of the university; he held the post intermittently until his death. He was relieved of his duties because of political reasons for the first time in 1914. In 1924 he was exiled to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands for opposing the military dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera. After a few months, he escaped to Paris, where his friends helped him create attention internationally to his exile. He then settled in Hendaye, the French Basque town nearest to the Spanish frontier, where he spent five years. General Rivera died in 1930 and Unamuno returned to the University of Salamanca, and was reelected rector in 1931. He worked as the professor of the history of the Spanish language, but in 1936 he was removed once again - this time denouncing Francisco Franco's Falangists. Unamuno was placed under house arrest.
When The Republican General Milan_Astray took control of University of Salamanca on October 12, 1936, Unamuno confronted him with these words:
"At times to be silent is to lie. You will win because you have enough brute force. But you will not convince. For to convince you need to persuade. And in order to persuade you would need what you lack: Reason and Right."


Milan-Astray shouted in reply, using typical fascist reasoning;

"Death to intelligence! And long live Death!" whereupon he drove the elderly Unamuno out of the university at gunpoint. Writer and independent thinker, original mind and rector of the University of Salamanca, Unamuno consequently suffered a heart attack and was dead within a week.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

DAD AND UNCLE DICK


So sorry,whatheheh, I haven't been keeping up. I spent a few days at my sister's place, recuperating and she has a telephone provider, not friendly to posting. And while your lucid responses to my posts should be reason enough to carry on, I do wish we had more company. The apparent loss of Marks O and Jackie O distress me and my muse is definitly on the wan. Do not give up on me completely, I may have a comeback in me. My arm is mending but probably will never be the same. Tendons at my age can be stubborn to rehab. Sigh. Lacking inspiration I give you my portrait of my Dad ( Left) and his brother Dick, two fine up from the dirt democrats who helped shape me. My father also carried scars from manual labor, but perhaps bore them better than I....

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Dolores Ibarruri - La Pasionaria


" The Spanish people would rather die on its feet than live on its knees. And do not forget, and let no one forget, that if today it is our turn to resist fascist aggression, the struggle will not end in Spain. Today it's us; but if the Spanish people is allowed to be crushed, you will be next, all of Europe will have to face aggression and war." When the fiery La Pasionaria made this speech in France in 1938 it was a plaintive cry to a sleeping world. Born in desperate poverty in Gallarta, Spain, on the 9th of December, 1895, Dolores Ibarruri matured to become one of the finest orators of her time. Mother of six children, only two of which survived the grinding poverty and lack of adequate food and health care rampant in oligarchical Spain, Dolores took to heart the teachings of Marx. Were she to need more reason to embrace radicalism, her huspand was arrested during a strike in 1920. My poor words will not do her justice, I will let her speak for herself. "The crude reality, the bare truth, hit me as it did every woman, with its unforgiving hands. A few short, fleeting days of illusion and afterwards, in my own experience, I learned the harsh truth of the popular saying 'Mother, what does it mean to be married? Daughter, it means to sew, to give birth and to cry'. To cry, to cry over our misfortunes, to cry over our powerlessness. To cry over our innocent children, to whom all we had to offer was our caresses soaked with tears. To cry over our pain-filled lives, without prospects, with no way out. Bitter tears, with a permanent curse in the heart and a blasphemy on the lips. "Vincent Sheean, the brilliant journalist and author of Not Peace But A Sword said of her - "Sometimes she gave it to them so straight and hard that you could hear the gasp of the whole audience. Her purpose was, of course, to make such failures and mistakes rarer in the future. She criticized the government not at all, but her own and the other revolutionary parties came in for some terrific lashings. And then, having frightened the audience into breathlessness by her picture of disaster, she set out to prove that victory was possible, and on what conditions. To an ordinary American journalist in the front row of the hall it seemed that she was asking these people to stop being Communists altogether, at least until the war was won. The genius of Dolores - her unquestionable genius as a speaker, the most remarkable I ever heard - worked upon them its customary miracle, and she had the whole audience cheering with enthusiasm when she finished." - La Pasionaria "Passion's Flower".

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

AMERICA UNDER SIEGE

I am and remain an American Patriot.
Despite the actions of a band of reprobates
determined to undermine her,
Without the consent of the governed,
And against everything she once stood for.
Let us resolve on this Independence day
To oppose with every means available
This continued assault of American ideals.
It may take years
It may take decades
I may not live to see it.
But I will have my country back.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Blame it on the fish


As the great exchange of comments in my last post got around to both fishing and profound questions about the nature of man and men I thought I would take this opportunity to recommend again, my favorite book, The Flounder, (1978), which contrasts the destructiveness of men with the sanity of women, and examines such matters as politics, feminism, and the art of cooking.
It is the story of an oft re-incarnated man and his ever present companion. Though they don many bodies and minds through the ages they are ever the same spirit. The saga begins in the marshes of the mouth of the River Vistula near Danzig, where a prehistoric fisherman catches a talking flounder. The flounder, in return for not being placed on the menu, takes the hopelessly confused man under his fin and guides him out of the matriarchy which predominates. The women have three breasts and suckle their men. Peace and order reign but…nothing ever happens. Eventually, in modern times, the flounder his hooked again by a gaggle of trolling feminists and is placed on trial for his crimes against women. I won’t tell you more in case you do yourself a favor and read it. I believe the book might give dear whattheheh fresh perspectives with which to sort out her very valid, but hard to plumb, questions.