Old Blood & Guts! Gen. Patton’s Battle Lessons for Citizen Activists

pattonby Jeff Wright, Jr.
Clash Daily Guest Contributor

My favorite hero from World War II has always been General George S. Patton, Jr., Old Blood and Guts. The 1970 movie Patton popularized a version of the “Patton speech” he would give to his Third Army troops in Europe. Patton gave the speeches to motivate his men and brace them for battle. In his book Patton, Montgomery, Rommel: Masters of War, British military historian Terry Brighton declared it, “the greatest motivational speech of the war and perhaps of all time, exceeding (in its morale boosting effect if not as literature) the words Shakespeare gave King Henry V at Agincourt.”

General Patton began his speech,

Men, all this stuff you hear about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of bulls**t. Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big-league ball players and the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. The very thought of losing is hateful to Americans. Battle is the most significant competition in which a man can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base.

Do Americans love to fight? Do we love the sting and clash of battle? Some do, not all. However, I believe Patton’s words resonate with more of us than we think.

Recall Rand Paul’s stand against the Obama Administration’s domestic drone strike policy. Paul’s filibuster was nearly 13 hours long. Remember how so many of us were invigorated by this one man who stood up in defiance against a system that couldn’t even concede that government drones would not be used to attack American citizens? “Stand with Rand!” was the rallying cry. Sen. Paul greatly enhanced his prospects for 2016 because people can say, “Here is a man who stands on principle and will fight for us.”

King David is remembered for many things but his best-known triumph is arguably his defeat of the Philistine’s champion, Goliath. David was Rocky 3,000 years before Sylvester Stallone! Sometimes one person has to rise and set the example before the rest of us get our courage up. David crystallized for hundreds of years to come the example of a man who will rise and fight when no one else would fight. David’s example stirs something within us even today.

There are three lessons engaged citizens who are standing and fighting can learn from military battle and apply to the ideological, moral and spiritual, and political struggles we face each day.

Refining. Patton mentions our first lesson: “Battle… brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base.” Engaging in a collective effort toward a common goal can be a powerful way to bring out the best in everyone. Throwing yourself into the work of the mission has the effect of focusing the heart and mind. Superfluous matters begin to fade into the background.

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