Here are some of my favorite quotes from famous people. Some of them are from times long past but they have meaning for today.
War is the luxury of kings. President George Bush should heed what happened to King Henry VIII, whose forces were campaigning in France in 1544. Three months of war cost the king £586,718 to capture the city of Bologna. To pay this sum he could count on only £200,000 of peacetime revenue and possibly another £200,000 of emergency Parliamentary financing. Victory was even more expensive, for it cost another £426,306 to defend the city. Henry was squandering his capital and mortgaging his future. He received unwanted advice from his foe, the French king Louis XII, who said: "In war three things must be made ready — money, money and once again, money."
The French may not have liked our invasion of Iraq, but they have taken a new turn when it comes to Liberia. France has many special interests in that country and much influence in neighboring countries. The French are concerned that problems in Liberia could spill over into other areas. Suddenly the French like Americans. "Please come help us," they say.
This quote from a Woody Allen movie sums up how France feels about the United States: "A man tells his doctor he's troubled because his brother thinks he's a chicken. 'Why don't you send him to a psychiatrist?' the doctor asks. 'I can't,' the man replies, 'because we need the eggs.'" I wonder if we need the French.
The end of life is, in fact, the beginning of a famous person's story. Recent deaths of former Atlanta mayors Ivan Allen and Maynard Jackson have produced an avalanche of tales about the contributions they made to the city and state. But before they both passed away, younger generations hardly knew they existed. There is no better truth in journalism than this: In the final stages of life a man or woman casts off the protective shield forged during the rough and tumble of politics during their time and the true, raw personality is revealed. For these two, the result of extreme examinations has been positive, and their greatness has been there for all to see. Former Governor Lester Maddox, on the other hand, was remembered for his taking an ax handle and chasing blacks out of his restaurant.
This brings to mind the famous quote: "Personal lives of famous persons best go unexamined."
All of history's most important battles have been won by the simple geographic fact that the victors gained and retained the higher ground.
In November 1862 President Lincoln's newly appointed commander of the Army of the Potomac, Ambrose E. Burnside, wanted to make a strong impression by making a beeline to the Confederate capital of Richmond. His first attempt was outside the small Virginia town of Fredericksburg. The Army of Northern Virginia set up a seven-mile defensive line along several hills high above the town. Counted among the defenders were two of my Georgia relations, PFC Jack Griffin from Ocilla and General James Longstreet from Augusta. With half again as many men, Burnside attacked. By the afternoon 11,000 Union men were cut down and a demoralized Burnside retreated across the river with an Army almost twice the size of Lee's. Here is my favorite quote:
"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it," said Robert E. Lee after the battle of Fredericksburg.
I am writing this column from my mountain home in Cashiers, N.C. In the early days of Appalachian history the town was named for one of two mules named Brutus and Cassius — for two famous people from Roman times. When Cassius died, local people referred to "that place where the mule Cassius died." They pronounced the name as if it ended with an "R". I love being in the mountains, and that brings me to this note. Visitors call the community "Cash-eers" but the natives say "CASH-ers."
This last quote is another from Jimmy Townsend, the late columnist from Jasper. It reads: "Summer is now slipping away as I sit on my patio and look over towards the mountains, watching the change that is slowly developing. The haze and the mountains come together so that it looks as if you could walk up the mountain and on into heaven."