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March 01, 2015

Happy St David's Day - Salute to Wales

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Near Llangollen / Image Howard Maunders, Beautiful Britain

We salute the people of Wales for defending freedom, for nurturing beautiful singers, for caring about their history, land, and language and for loving their poets.

BRYN TERFEL AND WELSH CHOIRS SING LAND OF MY FATHERS.

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All who love Magna Carta, and live better for it -- which would be all of us living in the Anglosphere -- owe the Welsh a debt. In 1212 and 1215, Welsh rebellions helped to undermine the power of King John and establish Magna Carta.

In turn, Magna Carta returned Welsh hostages to their families.

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Brecon Beacons

In 1284, after a series of bitter winter campaigns, Edward I conquered gallant Prince Llywelyn and Wales.
But this was not the end.

For the next seven hundred and fifty years, the Welsh gave back to Britain and the world by helping to fight and win battles for liberty and fair play and with their explorations and discoveries.

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Cardiff University. Sir Martin Evans, who studied here, shared the 2007 Nobel Prize for his contributions to medicine. Image/Wikimedia Commons

Poet Dylan Thomas sings of childhood in Wales in his poem Fern Hill -

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace.

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

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St David was said to have urged his followers to 'do the little things in life'. The little things in life, if loving, are really the big things, and they shine beyond time.

This post is added to and republished every year.

Pilot and nurse decorated for life-saving action in Afghanistan

From the Telegraph

An RAF emergency nurse who has helped evacuate more than 600 wounded from the battlefield and a helicopter pilot who braved heavy fire to save lives have been awarded medals in the latest round of military honours.

Maj Laura Nicholson of the Army Air Corps received the Distinguished Flying Cross for twice calmly taking her Chinook into heavy fire to pick up casualties, as bullets tore through the helicopter and wounded one of her crew.

Sqn Leader Charlotte Thompson-Edgar received the Associate of the Royal Red Cross for life-saving heroism over six tours in Afghanistan. She is believed to have carried out more medical evacuation missions than any other British nurse and was at the forefront of developing medical care in the back of helicopter ambulances.

Humbling.

February 26, 2015

Victoria Cross bestowed on heroic Para

Lance Corporal Joshua Mark Leakey

Clementine Churchill

She was Winston Churchill's wife and aide-de-camp nonpareil. (She did speak French perfectly.) We wonder whether Winston would have survived to save Western civilisation without her.

Shakespeare would have admired Clementine -- 'wise, fair, and true'.

Their daughter Mary Soames wrote a biography of her. It's terrific.

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