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Thursday, 1 September 2011

MEN at war

"The Government of India have caused this tablet to be erected to the memory of the twenty one non-commissioned officers and men of the 36 Sikh Regiment of the Bengal Infantry whose names are engraved below as a perpetual record of the heroism shown by these gallant soldiers who died at their posts in the defence of the fort of Saragarhi, on the 12 September 1897, fighting against overwhelming numbers, thus proving their loyalty and devotion to their sovereign, the Queen Empress of India, and gloriously maintaining the reputation of the Sikhs for unflinching courage on the field of battle."
Thus reads the inscription commemorating The Battle of Saragarhi.

Notice that in 1897, the word "men" in a military context carried a very specific meaning. It was a subset of enlisted soldiers--those who were not of non-commissioned rank--just simple infantrymen.

There's that word again--"MEN." It just keeps coming up whenever people talk about soldiers, for the simple reason that soldiers historically were men. Thus we have infantryMEN in the Army, airMEN in the Air Force, seaMEN in the Navy, and just plain MEN in the Marines.

The push for inclusion of females in all branches of the Armed Forces, and eventually all MOSs, is making people increasingly uncomfortable with these labels.

There's one thing women have never done, though--other than go to the moon, which at least one of them most assuredly will do before men once again step foot thereupon--they have never made a last stand.


  1. While I agree withn your basic premise, I suspect some frontier families would disagree with your last sentence (were they able to speak).

  2. Granted; however, I was speaking specifically of military service members, not humans in general.


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