Under the wide and starry sky

Under the wide and starry sky

Dig the grave and let me lie

Gladly did I live and gladly die

And I lay me down with a will

This be the verse you grave for me

Here he lies where he longed to be

Home is the sailor, home from the sea

And the hunter, home from the hill

This is Robert Louis Stevenson’s epitaph, his own words, and engraved on his tombstone in Samoa.

The closing lines are also the last lines in Leon Uris’ Battle Cry, a semi-autobiographical novel that tells the tale of a group of signallers from the Second Marine Division in WW2. I don’t think that I was aged even ten when I first finished this book and I reread that copy so many times that it eventually fell apart. It was this novel that taught me what being a Marine was all about, that and the sections on the Marine pilots in Miracle at Midway (Reader’s Digest version) that I also read many times at the same time.

Of course, we don’t have Marines here and if we did, I probably wouldn’t have been a very good one, but those words remain with me today – the power of a legend…

I’ve categorised this under The Thursday/Friday War because it is becoming so apparent that ethos and values are the key enablers for operation in the complex environment. If we can’t get this right, we can never hope to even attract let alone win the hearts and the minds of ‘the people‘…

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