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Old November Day/Martinmas/Einherjar

This day marks the full onset of winter. Hiring fairs used to take place today. In Asatru, it is the festival of the Einherjar, the 432,000 spiritual warriors who guard the gods. In Ireland, it is the day of the Lunantishees, spirits that guard the holy blackthorn trees.” — The Pagan Book Of Days, by Nigel Pennick

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In keeping with the celebration of warriors, today, in the United States, we celebrate our military veterans. It is widely accepted that there are generations who take this service upon themselves with great honor and pride. Also, though, in the past, in our worst-managed conflicts, there were countless who were taken into service, grossly abused, and left adrift. Knowing individuals from both groups, it is my constant wish that my deepest gratitude and respect is expressed  — everyday, not only on this holiday.

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A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown

BY WALT WHITMAN

A march in the ranks hard-prest, and the road unknown,

A route through a heavy wood with muffled steps in the darkness,

Our army foil’d with loss severe, and the sullen remnant retreating,

Till after midnight glimmer upon us the lights of a dim-lighted building,

We come to an open space in the woods, and halt by the dim-lighted building,

’Tis a large old church at the crossing roads, now an impromptu hospital

Entering but for a minute I see a sight beyond all the pictures and poems ever made,

Shadows of deepest, deepest black, just lit by moving candles and lamps,

And by one great pitchy torch stationary with wild red flame and clouds of smoke,

By these, crowds, groups of forms vaguely I see on the floor, some in the pews laid down,

At my feet more distinctly a soldier, a mere lad, in danger of bleeding to death, (he is shot in the abdomen,)

I stanch the blood temporarily, (the youngster’s face is white as a lily,)

Then before I depart I sweep my eyes o’er the scene fain to absorb it all,

Faces, varieties, postures beyond description, most in obscurity, some of them dead,

Surgeons operating, attendants holding lights, the smell of ether, the odor of blood,

The crowd, O the crowd of the bloody forms, the yard outside also fill’d,

Some on the bare ground, some on planks or stretchers, some in the death-spasm sweating,

An occasional scream or cry, the doctor’s shouted orders or calls,

The glisten of the little steel instruments catching the glint of the torches,

These I resume as I chant, I see again the forms, I smell the odor,

Then hear outside the orders given, Fall in, my men, fall in;

But first I bend to the dying lad, his eyes open, a half-smile gives he me,

Then the eyes close, calmly close, and I speed forth to the darkness,

Resuming, marching, ever in darkness marching, on in the ranks,

The unknown road still marching.

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