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Brothers in arms
September 16, 2009 5:37 PM   Subscribe

When his best friend died in combat, he showed up in a dress to the military funeral. Because both had promised each other that if one of them died the other would wear a dress to the funeral. True friendship. 1 2
posted by Clementines4ever (107 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
From the Times.

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That's too painful for any more comment than that.
posted by edd at 5:44 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by mockjovial at 5:45 PM on September 16, 2009


I wonder what the story behind the dress is. Why did they make a pact? Why that dress?
posted by ocherdraco at 5:46 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by mccarty.tim at 5:49 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by sonic meat machine at 5:51 PM on September 16, 2009


What a pact. This is the kind of guy that you'd want with you in a firefight.

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posted by zerobyproxy at 5:53 PM on September 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


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posted by Joe Beese at 5:55 PM on September 16, 2009


Damn.

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posted by brundlefly at 5:57 PM on September 16, 2009


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Bless their hearts.
posted by saturnine at 6:00 PM on September 16, 2009


What a pact. This is the kind of guy that you'd want with you in a firefight.

The kind of guy who's going to show up in a dress and cry his eyes out at your funeral. I know it's my inner pacifist speaking, but If I was ever in a firefight, that's the kind of guy I'd want to be at home with his parents or his girlfriend, far away from all the bullets.

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posted by emperor.seamus at 6:02 PM on September 16, 2009 [21 favorites]


Weird and sweet and sad, all at the same time.

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posted by pised at 6:03 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by HuronBob at 6:05 PM on September 16, 2009


I can only think of this.
And, .
posted by _dario at 6:06 PM on September 16, 2009


These two pictures are some pretty raw fucking grief. Fuck war. Fuck it right in the ass.

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posted by dersins at 6:07 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's a good friend.

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posted by dunkadunc at 6:11 PM on September 16, 2009


The kind of guy who's going to show up in a dress and cry his eyes out at your funeral. I know it's my inner pacifist speaking, but If I was ever in a firefight, that's the kind of guy I'd want to be at home with his parents or his girlfriend, far away from all the bullets.

Oh, please. That's not your inner pacifist, that's your inner chauvanist.

The crying? That's because he lost his best friend and he hurts. And, he's strong enough to not care that people see how broken up he is.

The dress? Okay -- the bet they made with each other was probably the kind of weird, drunken, giggling half-serious thing you do when you're trying to get smashed because you're both going into battle and you're scared, and you make a stupid joke to distract each other and it just cracks you both up so you swear to it becuase you never DREAM that any of you would collect on it. But then, one of you does die.

Most people, in that situation, would try to back out because "oh, no, that was just us when we were drunk, we didn't really mean it." But not this guy -- he thought "okay, even if he was joking, we swore to each other, and I honor my promises, so -- lemme get the dress, because I made a pact."

So he's a guy who a) cares enough for other people that he is affected by their harm, b) is strong enough to not give a shit what people think of him, and c) honors his promises -- even the ones that would be inconvenient.

That sounds a damn sight better than someone who doesn't give a shit about people (be they other soldiers or civilians), is too hung up on looking tough (who knows what he'd do to try to "prove he was tough," you know?) and tries to get out of things that he thinks beneath him (in the military, sometimes someone has to do the tough crap work).

This guy is MORE than equipped to serve in the military, in my book, and a lot of other things besides. A toast to him, his friend, and their friendship.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:12 PM on September 16, 2009 [183 favorites]


Sadly, you know that if he hadn't been wearing a dress to the funeral, the papers probably wouldn't have run with the story.

It's more "and in other news" than an anything relating to war, or the losses suffered during war.

On the other hand, any publicity to put a human face on "another soldier died today", to get people to realise the terrible consequences of war, is probably a good thing.
posted by djgh at 6:14 PM on September 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


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posted by iamkimiam at 6:15 PM on September 16, 2009


I'm glad that the newspapers are sensationalizing this. Sure, it's a guy in a dress, and that's probably the main reason it's getting media attention. But it's more than that. Because it symbolizes honoring good values – friendship, promise, courage, and lots of other stuff. We could really use more of that celebration these days. And especially during times of grief.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:19 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Uh, Empress, you completely missed my point. What I was trying to say was in short, that it's sad to see good people have to go to war.

That's it.

He obviously loved this person, he was his friend, and he stood by their pact. If I could wave a magic wand and have it mean that he never had to fight another battle again? Then I absolutely would.

My inner pacifist doesn't want the sissy's to stay at home so the strong men can go fight, it wants kids to stop getting shot at. Hell, I justified that I would want him out of the line of fire with the "inner pacifist" line specifically because I didn't want to pick a fight with anyone over something like this.

Re-reading my comment, I can understand how you misread it, and I apologize for my lack of clarity.
posted by emperor.seamus at 6:20 PM on September 16, 2009 [38 favorites]


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posted by orrnyereg at 6:20 PM on September 16, 2009


I saw this on fark first, but because of what it is, I won't piss on it.

First, reminds me of a World Series of Poker event where two guys had an agreement; going in they decided the loser would pay the other's entrance fee, but when they both made the final table they agreed the loser would congratulate the winner and mean it.

This is exactly like that, but with war and death.

And I was in the Guard between '87 and '93, so before anyone gets upset at what I've written...I knew some people the first go round that died (I wouldn't call them friends, but I stood next to them in formation).

I would have proudly worn that dress.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:20 PM on September 16, 2009


edd, thanks for the link to the Times article - the background was very informative.

That look on Barry Delaney's face as he grieves for his friend is both terrible and personal and I'm sorry that he lost one of his best mates in such a senseless, stupid fashion. For Barry to be inured towards the attention speaks to his friendship with Kevin and the loss that he's experiencing.

The real tragedy is that it takes pictures of a man in a dress at a funeral to bring attention to the soldiers dying in Afghanistan nowadays. I wonder what it'll take to get people to pay attention to what's happening to the Afghani people.

Thank you, Private Elliott, for your sacrifice. I hope it wasn't in vain.
posted by ooga_booga at 6:21 PM on September 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ah, Gotcha, seamus. No apology necessary, then -- you just bobbled when choosing your words a little, and they took on a weird meaning you hadn't anticipated; we all do that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:22 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by The Monkey at 6:28 PM on September 16, 2009


My heart goes out to him in his grief.

I also respect the way he honored the wager. He not only honored the words, but went all in with it, too. As if to say "I'm gonna wear the limest green, dressiest dress you mothers have ever seen".
posted by darkstar at 6:28 PM on September 16, 2009


EmpressCallipygos, I understood what emperor.seamus had to say (and it's hard to see mom and dad fight).

Seriously, you're both right.

I am really missing the chauvinism.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:29 PM on September 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


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posted by Kinbote at 6:30 PM on September 16, 2009


For some reason - the post title, obviously - I thought of this.
posted by kbanas at 6:35 PM on September 16, 2009


djgh, I get that way. The cynical part of me keeps thinking, Why not cover a day in Iraq or Afghanistan where a soldier doesn't die? because, you know, that would be news!

I am bowing out of this thread. I have too. It's been over 5 years since anything has made me want to cry.

Sorry.

I'm done. I would have worn the dress.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:37 PM on September 16, 2009


There is something so deeply affecting about that first picture linked in the FPP - so raw, so ... heartfelt, the way that young man has sunk down on the ground, unable to hold himself up any longer. So tragic, and such a senseless, pointless waste of a life.

Goddamit it made me cry.
posted by kcds at 6:38 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ask the dead. The British have been eliminating the Pashtun since 1832.
posted by hortense at 6:38 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was having a hard day once; working without help and more than I could handle. An old black man came into the house were I was hanging sheetrock to drop off some mud. We chatted for a little bit, he was leaning over the sheetrock pile looking at me sitting on the bench across the room. I told him about my problems and he listened to me thoughtfully and nodded in turn. Finaly he said "Well, it's hard but it's fair". He went out and got another bucket of mud and as he rounded the sheetrock pile I saw he had a false leg made of plastic or something. Whenever I start to feeling sorry for myself I remember those words. What do I know about "hard" and how would I know what was "fair" some people know more than their share.


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posted by nola at 6:43 PM on September 16, 2009 [22 favorites]


For me, this highlights how painfully young these soldiers are. I'm reminded of the ball-breaking goofballs I know and am glad are not dealing with war and this level of loss.
posted by availablelight at 6:44 PM on September 16, 2009


EmpressCallipygos, I understood what emperor.seamus had to say (and it's hard to see mom and dad fight).

I thought he meant something else at first; he clarified it, and now I get it. We're cool.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:47 PM on September 16, 2009


Does a "." signify a tear?
posted by jefficator at 6:55 PM on September 16, 2009


Apparently Barry Delaney is a brickie not a squaddie; true friend whatever the case.
posted by Abiezer at 6:58 PM on September 16, 2009


Moment of silence, jefficator.

Unless I've been doing something else entirely for my time on the blue...
posted by emperor.seamus at 6:58 PM on September 16, 2009


merci
posted by jefficator at 6:59 PM on September 16, 2009


That first picture really captured that sense of finality that you experience when someone that close to you is finally buried or cremated. I honestly didn't notice the dress for a second, it was just the guy on his knees holding his hand to his face in utter sadness.

For his buddy, and for him.

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posted by Nick Verstayne at 7:00 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The photo of him kneeling in that dress, sobbing, moved me greatly.

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posted by rtha at 7:00 PM on September 16, 2009


The kind of guy who's going to show up in a dress and cry his eyes out at your funeral. I know it's my inner pacifist speaking, but If I was ever in a firefight, that's the kind of guy I'd want to be at home with his parents or his girlfriend, far away from all the bullets.

Life experience, ur doin it wrong.
posted by fire&wings at 7:09 PM on September 16, 2009


I thought it said he showed up in "military dress" and then clicked through. That was the worst cognitive dissonance I've had since first seeing a hairless cat in real life.
posted by autodidact at 7:27 PM on September 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos, I understood what emperor.seamus had to say (and it's hard to see mom and dad fight).

I thought he meant something else at first; he clarified it, and now I get it. We're cool.


I think someone is just having a smile with "mommy Empress" and "daddy Emperor"
posted by notreally at 7:30 PM on September 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I can't view that image. Yes, I can open it, but simply looking at it breaks my heart.

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posted by scrutiny at 7:36 PM on September 16, 2009


I both hope my sons have a friend like that, and that I never know they're friends are like that.

I hate to see young men die. Damn it.
posted by misha at 7:41 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by lester at 7:48 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by rmd1023 at 7:51 PM on September 16, 2009


I wish I had something more profound to say, but that was really moving.

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posted by desjardins at 7:55 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:00 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by deCadmus at 8:17 PM on September 16, 2009


sigh, that made me tear up :( poor kid
posted by Gonestarfishing at 8:43 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by LMGM at 8:45 PM on September 16, 2009


War is really fucked up
posted by voltairemodern at 9:18 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 9:23 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by LobsterMitten at 9:24 PM on September 16, 2009


Does a "." signify a tear?

From the MeFi wiki: both a moment of silence, and the tradition of leaving pebbles on tombstones.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:25 PM on September 16, 2009


That is tragic and beautiful. It is good to know that there are honorable men left in the world.

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posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:35 PM on September 16, 2009


Honestly? I love you all. Even the ones I don't love.
posted by humannaire at 9:50 PM on September 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


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(something about the leg warmers packs an even bigger punch)
posted by gnomeloaf at 10:10 PM on September 16, 2009


Every British Army soldier I've ever known will, I guarantee, have read this story and said to him or herself, "Fucking good effort".

The fact that he is a civilian is extra impressive. These kind of bets (and sticking to them) are part and parcel of British military life, but for a civilian to do this for his friend will be truly impressive and moving for any serving or ex-service person. The soldiers over on Army Rumour Service are certainly saluting him.

In all honesty, I think military deaths get better and more frequent coverage in the UK than most places. My American wife said she has been gobsmacked by the depths and levels of coverage, including front pages filled with pictures of the dead, national news stories on every death and the horrifying, solemn and utterly moving ritual that has evolved in the town of Wootton Basset.

Would that none of it was necessary. As a commenter on Army Rumour Service said, these moving images and the simple faithfulness of a friend to a bet may turn out to be a defining image of the war for Britain. Any image that helps the country at large to understand the grief and loss created by this war will, incrementally, bring it to a close a little quicker.
posted by Happy Dave at 10:57 PM on September 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


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posted by DreamerFi at 11:35 PM on September 16, 2009


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posted by ursus_comiter at 12:08 AM on September 17, 2009


There is something archetypal about this gesture, as well. It seems to fit within a profound tradition of honoring the beloved lost by not giving a damn about what other people think about you when you're in your grief.

And in that photo, the lad's grief is so overwhelming...
posted by darkstar at 12:50 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by Amanda B at 12:57 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by mopheeoos at 1:55 AM on September 17, 2009


just damn
posted by treyka at 2:42 AM on September 17, 2009


I'm weeping, and I can't even open the links. And I don't know what else to write.

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posted by kalimac at 3:07 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:20 AM on September 17, 2009


"Every British Army soldier I've ever known will, I guarantee, have read this story and said to him or herself, "Fucking good effort"."

No doubt. And good on him, seriously. It's a rare thing to have been as faithful to a friend in death as in life.

That said, every British Army officer I've ever known would have appreciated the gesture and privately thought to himself "no officer would ever have made that bet."
posted by MuffinMan at 3:54 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by beanytacos at 4:54 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by Splunge at 5:15 AM on September 17, 2009


If someone asks me ten years from now to define what it means to be a friend, this will be my reply.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:16 AM on September 17, 2009


That said, every British Army officer I've ever known would have appreciated the gesture and privately thought to himself "no officer would ever have made that bet".

Indeed, but that's why they call it squaddie humour. Although most of the officers I've known have been known to party in drag. To the point that I commented it seems to be a Sandhurst fixation.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:27 AM on September 17, 2009


Indeed, indeed, Happy Dave. Horses for courses, though.

The only service funeral I went to was a squaddie funeral and while I have no doubt my dead friend would have laughed silly at the thought of one of his mates dressing up in a lime green dress, I don't think most of his family or colleagues would have been as accomodating.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:40 AM on September 17, 2009


It hurts losing a close friend to war.

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posted by Mastercheddaar at 5:57 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by orme at 5:59 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by LakesideOrion at 6:07 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by cristinacristinacristina at 6:43 AM on September 17, 2009


It hurts to look at visceral grief like this.

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posted by schyler523 at 7:09 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by kalessin at 7:16 AM on September 17, 2009


(something about the leg warmers packs an even bigger punch)

Possibly because it eerily matches his grief-reddened nose.
posted by kittyprecious at 7:17 AM on September 17, 2009


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That was the worst cognitive dissonance I've had since first seeing a hairless cat in real life.
Thanks for making me chuckle inappropriately when I was tearing up. I really mean it, it was nice to smile a bit after that.

posted by This Guy at 7:25 AM on September 17, 2009


This is a bit of a tangent, but in case anyone could use the smile:

I think someone is just having a smile with "mommy Empress" and "daddy Emperor"

You posted this twelve hours ago, and I only just got the joke NOW. I'm an idiot.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:34 AM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Truer friends never were.

Nice socks.

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posted by Halloween Jack at 7:46 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by kudzu at 8:03 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by MrBobaFett at 8:13 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by harujion at 8:16 AM on September 17, 2009


It made me cry, and it makes me realize how much the American public is being robbed of understanding what the real consequences of this war are because the media has colluded with the warmongers to keep the airwaves sanitized.

Boys and girls this age are dying every day. Every. Day. Citizens of other countries are being laid to waste by kids this age.

War is hell. It's time to stop waging it.
posted by dejah420 at 8:22 AM on September 17, 2009


That guy should teach classes on brotherhood. Seeing those pictures, I have to ask myself if I have any friends that would do the same for me. I am just overwhelmed by the love that man had for his friend. Awesome.
posted by Poppa Bear at 8:29 AM on September 17, 2009


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=(
posted by aliceinreality at 8:51 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:20 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by FatherDagon at 10:31 AM on September 17, 2009


damn this dusty office!
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posted by Deathalicious at 10:32 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by sarcasticah at 11:06 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 11:49 AM on September 17, 2009


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posted by sonascope at 11:56 AM on September 17, 2009


Damn it. This is so heartbreaking and pointless. I can't move past this, and I can't stop crying. This should not have happened. There was no need for this. I don't know what else I can say, except for

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posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 3:56 PM on September 17, 2009


"Any image that helps the country at large to understand the grief and loss created by this war will, incrementally, bring it to a close a little quicker."

I hope.
What heartens me about this is that the bet, this kind of thing, is something warmongers won't understand. And I think the wearing the dress part of it helps to ensure it won't turned into be some Disneyfied overidealized sentimental b.s. that glorifies war. But rather, is illustrative of the deeply personal nature of the bond and the reality of the grief.
Whatever one's political beliefs, I think it's absolutely necessary to recognize the tragic and very human cost of any war. And too often that's washed over with too many things that are not at real and the reality of it is ignored.
But this, this is real.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:03 PM on September 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


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posted by SuzySmith at 7:30 PM on September 17, 2009


Bravo! I want to say something profound about this, but I don't feel I have the words... maybe putting it into words would cheapen the gesture.

I respect what he did.
posted by FerociousTurnip at 8:38 PM on September 17, 2009


What I was trying to say was in short, that it's sad to see good people have to go to war.

Errr is it only OK or a happy moment to have the sociopaths go to war?
posted by rough ashlar at 4:46 AM on September 18, 2009


It is sad, but fuck people, can we stop with the fucking "." It's so brainless and massively non committal.
posted by mattoxic at 6:33 AM on September 18, 2009


No, mattoxic, it is neither brainless nor non committal. It's a nice way of concisely putting a sentiment out in the world that shows respect and deference, without (what I feel is) unncessary word clutter.

Also, I can't speak for anyone else here, but when I put a moment of silence out on a web page, I actually stop and take an actual moment of silence. I think about the person I'm attributing this moment to, and then when I feel ready, I click "Post Comment"


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posted by iamkimiam at 7:31 AM on September 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


That is extremely sad... I know of several people serving in war right now, and nothing good ever comes from it.
posted by luckycharmz336 at 7:57 AM on September 18, 2009




Fucking .

Sometimes your words don't work. Doesn't make it brainless or massively non-committal.

If you've ever stood next to someone who's lost a loved one, and had no words to say, but all you could do was be there for them - well, then...maybe you'd understand that.

So yeah.

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Fucking .
posted by allkindsoftime at 6:02 AM on September 22, 2009


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