Brigadier General Paul Tibbets, 1915-2007

Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
From the field of his fame fresh and gory;
We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone,
But left him alone with his glory.

Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr., the pilot of the Enola Gay, died today at the age of 92. We were appalled to read that:

Tibbets had requested no funeral and no headstone, fearing it would provide his detractors with a place to protest, Newhouse said.

We have read of only one case in which a military officer was buried in an unmarked grave to prevent desecration–by the enemy, as opposed to the absolute dregs of his own society. We repeat that: absolute dregs of society. It is one matter to sing Kumbaya over Hiroshima and Nagasaki (while forgetting Pearl Harbor and the Bataan Death March), and doing so will bring only our disagreement. It is another to dishonor or desecrate the grave of a soldier who was carrying out the lawful orders of his superiors and his civilian government (recalling that President Truman gave the direct order for the use of nuclear weapons against Japan). We will not even recognize an individual who expresses disagreement with the atomic bombings in this manner as a fellow human being, let alone a fellow American.

In any event, this is what happened to Major General Edward Braddock, the ill-fated leader of a British expedition during the French and Indian Wars.

In an expedition that included George Washington, Braddock was ambushed by French soldiers and Indians as they widened the road to fit their artillery. Massive casualties included General Braddock, and he was buried on the side of the road. His whole troop marched over his grave to eliminate any trace of it and preserve his body from mutilation.

Again, mutilation by the enemy (including French-allied Native Americans who reputedly tortured the British prisoners to death), not by his own people–not that we would acknowledge any leftists who would dishonor General Tibbets’ resting place in this manner as fellow Americans. We remind these leftists, although we doubt their ability to even comprehend concepts like “honor,” “duty,” or “country,” that Tibbets and his crew risked their lives to deliver an experimental weapon of enormous destructive power for the purpose of ending the Second World War and saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Our father was then in the U.S. Marine Corps and he faced the very real prospect of having to invade Japan, whose warlords were indoctrinating the population to fight to the last man, woman, and child. We have no problem whatsoever with the orders and the weapon that were issued to Tibbets and his crew.

It is not known why Sir John Moore, the British general who died at the Battle of Corunna (1809) was similarly buried, because the victorious French treated his remains with respect. In any event, the poet Charles Wolfe provides a fitting epitaph not only for Moore but also General Tibbets:

Not a drum was heard, nor a funeral note,
As his corse to the rampart we hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
O’er the grave where our hero we buried.

We buried him darkly at dead of night,
The sods with our bayonets turning;
By the struggling moonbeam’s misty light
And the lantern dimly burning.

No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
Nor in sheet nor in shroud we wound him;
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest
With his martial cloak around him.

Few and short were the prayers we said,
And we spoke not a word of sorrow;
But we steadfastly gazed on the face that was dead,
And we bitterly thought of the morrow.

We thought, as we hollowed his narrow bed
And smoothed down his lonely pillow,
That the foe and the stranger would tread o’er his head,
And we far away on the billow!

Lightly they’ll talk of the spirit that’s gone
And o’er his cold ashes upbraid him,–
But little he’ll reck, if they let him sleep on
In the grave where a Briton has laid him.

But half of our heavy task was done
When the clock struck the hour for retiring:
And we heard the distant and random gun
That the foe was sullenly firing.

Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
From the field of his fame fresh and gory;
We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone,
But left him alone with his glory.

The Burial of Sir John Moore at Corunna


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