This Speech Is Still Amazing 400 Years Later!

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Shakespeare created a speech for Henry V, in his play of the same name, that expresses so many of the layers of a combat veteran’s experience.  First, it is a rousing pep talk to his outnumbered troops just before they go into a battle that would go down in the history of England as one of its greatest hours.

It is also a testament to the suffering and sacrifice that combat veterans are all too familiar with by their mutual experiences on those terrible fields of battle.

This speech understands the reality that it is always “the few” who undertake the weight and responsibility necessary to defend those we love and the country of our birth.

Shakespeare also understood that those who have shared the horrors of war, who were lucky enough to come home to marry, to raise children, and to grow old, will always be brothers of a kind that can be matched no where else.

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This is one of the greatest speeches in all of literature.


To those who have not been there, listen well, and you may come to understand at some level what we combat veterans carry with us for the rest of our lives.  For those who have been there, listen well, and remember your brothers and sisters, those who gave their all, and those, like yourself, who came home to carry the memories in the depths of their souls for the rest of their lives.

Honor them all with your thoughts and your prayers this day.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.