“God grants liberty only to those who love it and are always ready to defend it.”
– Daniel Webster, 1834
I’ve been spending more time sorting through sewing and craft supplies lately, trying to organize my sewing room, than following politics and the news. However, being an inveterate news junkie is a habit that isn’t easy to break, so I’m still reading some news online daily. Watching the endless scorched earth battles of President Donald Trump pitted against the Left, the Democratic machine, and the mainstream media disgusts me and fills me with great concern for America’s future. I wonder, “Who are we and what really matters to us?”
This post isn’t going to be about needlework, but needlework is the thread with which I’m going to try and sew the larger issue of liberty and personal sacrifice to preserve liberty into a blog post.
Through watching needlework videos from around the world on YouTube, I came across some “community” of counted cross-stitchers called “floss tube”, who post videos about their counted cross-stitch projects. The usual floss tube video seems to be about an hour, divided into sections of show and tell about finished projects, works-in-progress (WIPs), and “Haul” (more cross-stitch junk purchased). Then there are a few floss tube contributors, like the expert needlewoman , Mary Rose, named after Mary, Queen of Scots, who present much shorter, highly educational and deeply thoughtful videos that deal with much larger life lessons.
The poem she is referring to is a poem, The Life That I Have, which she stitched and is combining with a floral design. Sounds silly and pointless, until you consider the poem:
The text of the poem, by Leo Marks:
- The life that I have
- Is all that I have
- And the life that I have
- Is yours.
- The love that I have
- Of the life that I have
- Is yours and yours and yours.
- A sleep I shall have
- A rest I shall have
- Yet death will be but a pause.
- For the peace of my years
- In the long green grass
- Will be yours and yours and yours.
Mary Rose explains the history of the poem and how it became famous, in the WWII movie, Carve Her Name with Pride, which is based on the true life story of British spy heroine, Violette Szabo, who was just an ordinary young woman working in a department store in London at 19:
“Just four years before, she was Violette Bushell, a pretty, Paris-born girl selling perfume at the Bon Marché department store in South London. Then she met Etienne Szabo, a charming, 31-year-old officer with the French Foreign Legion, at a Bastille Day parade, and they married five weeks later. But Etienne soon shipped off to North Africa, where General Erwin Rommell and his Panzer divisions were on the move through the sands of Egypt. Szabo was killed in October 1942, during the Second Battle of El Alamein. He would posthumously receive the Croix de Guerre, the highest French military award for bravery in battle, but he would never see his daughter, Tania, born to Violette in London just months before he died.”
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/behind-enemy-lines-with-violette-szabo-1896571/#6ADyiWlgBSWG0i4T.99
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This young WWII widow, with a young daughter, joined the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). She was captured by the Nazis after being injured parachuting into France on a mission. She was executed in 1944 in the German concentration camp, Ravensbrück.
The poem above is a poem code, which Leo Marks used as Violette Szabo’s code to send messages. Leo Marks was a British cryptographer in World War II.
Violette Szabo, didn’t have the education or background to be a likely choice for a SOE agent, but in that day recruiters for the SOE were looking for unique people, with unique character and skill sets. The Smithsonian Magazine article, Behind Enemy Lines with Violette Szabo, describes her:
“…she was fluent in French and, though just 5-foot-5, athletic and surprisingly strong for her size. She was already a crack shot in a family comfortable around guns and target practice; under rigorous SOE training, she became an accomplished markswoman. Reports described her as a persistent and “physically tough self-willed girl,” and “not easily rattled.””
Like so many of her generation, Violette Szabo, knew liberty is precious and worth fighting to preserve. How she lived though, by courageous self-sacrifice, says more than all the focus-group tested speeches, ever delivered by self-serving, pompous, iconic feminist windbags, like Hillary Clinton. This 23 year-old war widow, with a tiny daughter, parachuted into France and here’s how she conducted herself:
“Two days after landing, a car transporting Szabo to a rendezvous was stopped at a German checkpoint. With weapons and ammunition in the car, Szabo and the resistance fighter accompanying her had no choice but to open fire and try to flee in the confusion. Szabo twisted her ankle, but urged her companion to go on without her while she sheltered behind a tree and provided covering fire. According to two of her biographers, Szabo held off the German pursuers until she ran out of ammunition, when she was captured and taken away for interrogation, still defiant and cursing her captors.”
How important messages are sent and received matters. Leo Marks used his original love poem as a secret code. Violette Szabo’s selfless courage speaks of a civic virtue, desperately needed, but rarely found in our rudderless trash culture these days.
In today’s world, where checking the “right” boxes for educational background and resumé or knowing the “right” important people matters more than actual character or talents, I doubt our intelligence “experts” would even notice the talents of a heroine like Violette Szabo. Assuredly, assessing character is a rare ability in America, where the two major parties’ 2016 presidential candidates were both pathological liars and willing to say or do anything to win. That millions of people cheer on two such morally-bankrupt characters speaks volumes about we, the American people, and what we think matters.
My blog is just my opinions. When I write posts, often I walk away not sure I expressed what I really intended to say. Storytelling isn’t my strong suit. In fact, in most things in my life, I don’t have a great deal of talent. That’s the truth. I love needlework, but I’m not a “natural” at it and I don’t produce any heirloom-quality pieces. Most of what I stitch are small or medium, not highly complicated patterns and I try to keep the back of my work as neat as the front. My writing is much the same… a great love of writing, but not nearly the skills and talent, that I wish I had. With just about everything I have done in my life, I had to practice… a lot, to become even halfway decent at it. So, I stitch things that I like, even small, simple things, like this, that I want to turn into a small quilted wall-hanging for in my I love America room:
Being willing to listen, with not only an open mind, but an open heart matters. Often, not only messages come in surprising ways (like via a needlework video), sometimes they are delivered by highly unlikely messengers, like Mary Rose, sitting in her “stitchblisscorner” chatting about needlework.
Here’s a link to a 2015 news story about Violette Szabo’s medals: