Death Ground

Zulu (1964) | film freedonia

For those feeling hopeless and defeated after seeing Democrats steal this year’s presidential election–hey, it could be worse.

In 1879 some 150 British and colonial troops stationed at Rorke’s Drift, where they were expected to be out of harm’s way, were attacked by at least 3,000 (and possibly as many as 4,000) Zulu warriors. What could be more hopeless than that? What could they do?

The ancient Chinese sage Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, said it best:

“On death ground… fight.”

So that’s what they did, all afternoon, all night. And the next day, what was left of the Zulu host retreated, their purpose unachieved. The handful of men at Rorke’s Drift had lived through an inescapable danger. By not giving up. It was simple: there was nothing for them to do but fight. As hard as they could, for as long as they could. And most of them survived it.

The battle of Rorke’s Drift was the subject of a 1964 movie, Zulu, featuring Michael Caine’s film debut. Most war movies exaggerate the history, but Zulu understates it–because the true story of the fight was just too hard to believe. Caine’s character, for instance, Lt. Gonville Bromhead, was actually stone deaf: he’d been placed at Rorke’s Drift to keep him out of the way. His disability didn’t stop him from winning a Victoria Cross for his role in the battle.

As daunting, even terrifying, as our country’s current crisis is, people throughout history have been through worse. Sometimes they even triumph against impossible odds.

But they don’t do it by losing heart and giving up.

3 comments on “Death Ground

    1. Preceded by Jan 5th, the runoffs in Georgia — which, come to think of it, probably won’t be completely counted until after Jan 6th, when the Georgia cheaters will know how many votes they have to add to ensure the completion of their robbery.

      But as the old song goes, “The thugs may break our bodies / And cause us to shed tears, / But they cannot break our spirit / If they try a thousand years.”

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