by Mike Vanderboegh
3 July 2008
"Dot-Dot-Dot-Dash" -- International Morse Code for the letter V.
"Da-Da-Da-Dah" -- The opening notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
"V" -- Hand signal consisting of the first two fingers of either hand extended, with last two tucked under the thumb, popularized by Winston Churchill, 1940-1945.
All of the above: Symbols of promised victory by the Allies in World War II.
During World War II, the Dutch people listened to the forbidden broadcasts of the BBC to get their war news. If they were caught, they would be arrested by the Gestapo.
"This is London . . ." the broadcasts would always begin, with the fateful opening notes of Beethoven's Fifth, "da - da - da - dah, da- da- da- dah," in what everyone knew was musical Morse code shorthand for "Victory." In Dutch the word was "Vrijheid."
Soon, the Dutch Resistance, chafing under Nazi occupation, would sneak out at night, violating the curfew to paint the word on walls. Often, they would just make a V.
The shorthand was just as good. And if you were caught, it would earn you a one-way trip to Gestapoland.
Think of that. A possible death sentence just for making a letter on a wall.
But it was more than a letter - it was a symbol. A powerful symbol. And dictatorships don't like symbols they don't create or control.
The Dutch weren't the only ones who taunted their occupiers with the V. The French and Belgians would also.
V for Victoire.
Charles DeGaulle used it in every speech he made over the BBC Worldwide from 1942 on.
In that, he was imitating Winston Churchill of course, who used a V sign in both versions to symbolize "V for Victory." Early in the war he used palm in (sometimes with a cigar between the fingers). Later, he used palm out. He probably made the change after it was explained to him that the lower classes in Britain used the palm-in two-finger salute as an insult.
"Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time." -- Faux Frenchman to King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
And the origins of THAT went way back.
In 14th Century French historian Jean Froissart's "Chronicles," he recounts a story of the English waving their fingers at the French during the siege of a castle. According to legend, the two-fingers salute and/or V sign derives from the gestures of English longbowmen at the Battle of Agincourt (1415) during the Hundred Years War. The French, it was said, cut off the index and middle fingers of the right hand of any captured archers, and so the gesture was a sign of defiance from the greatly outnumbered English.
Jean LeFevre, a Frenchman who fought on the English side at Agincourt, was later quoted as saying that Henry V included a reference to the French cutting off longbowmen's fingers in his pre-battle speech. Sometime in the intervening centuries, this became equivalent to "diddle you." And this "dirty" version of the insult has remained in English lower class usage right up until today.
But during World War II, thanks to Churchill it became the one symbol that bound all the Allied combatants together. "Vrijheid," "victoire," or "victory," the V meant the same thing and it is a measure of its power to inspire, and the discomfiture that it caused the Nazis, that its use was punished so severely.
Of course since World War II, its power to patriotically inspire has sadly diminished. First, Richard Nixon made it into a silly charicature of Churchill's defiant gesture. Then the anti-Vietnam War "peace movement" co-opted it, so that nowadays if someone uses it, it is called "the peace sign."
A typical dirty collectivist trick.
"3%": A promise of Victory
So why am I concerned about the history of the "V" sign?
It's just this. As gunnies, as members of the armed citizenry of the Republic of the united States, we too need a symbol.
Something as short, sweet and powerful as the "V". Something that can be painted on the side of a building, or across the face of an anti-gun billboard or re-election sign of a gun grabbing politician. Something powerful. Something easy. Something even a bit scary to collectivists with frayed nerves so as to disturb their beauty sleep.
Think of it as a freedom "gang sign".
And here is what I propose.
That's right - just 3.
Because as with all things powerful you need something that connects you to those "mystic chords of memory" that Lincoln spoke of. The "V for Victory" hearkened back to the defiant English longbowmen.
But we as Americans should remember the 3 per cent. During our Revolution, from a population of somewhat over 2 million, the rebels fielded an army of Continentals, sailors and militia that at any given time amounted to a mere 3 per cent of the population.
These were actively supported by only, perhaps, another ten percent. That's all. By the end of the war, in fact, there were more Loyalist colonists serving in the King's forces than there were revolutionaries. Yet with just three percent the Founders overthrew the power of the greatest military empire on the planet at the time.
And if we look around today, at what the armed citizenry has become, can we count on more than 3 percent to stand up to any future tyranny?
But reminding ourselves (and our Constitution's enemies) daily that the Founders did it with just 3 percent ought to encourage us and give them pause.
As with the "V", it can be displayed a number of ways. With your hand, display the first three fingers with the fourth tucked under your thumb, fingers pointing up like Churchill's V.
To our friends, show it palm out.
To our enemies, show it palm in.
On a wall or billboard it can be written "3," or the Roman numeral "III" or "3%" or "3 pct".
It also has the advantage of incorporating the "V" -- the English longbowman's taunt -- without anyone mistaking it for a stinking "peace symbol."
Sort of a "victory plus" with attitude.
If you count the poll numbers on the question of the strict interpretation -- the Founders' interpretation -- of the Second Amendment versus the collectivists' "reasonable regulation" we are even now a despised minority within our own country.
If the Founders did it with 3 percent, so can we. In our generation, which will continue the struggle for the Founders' republic in the 21st Century, 3 percent will still be enough.
If enough of us send a message like Churchill, maybe one day it will cause a chill to run down the spine of the gun grabbers just as the V did to the Nazis in World War II.
Like the V, it would be a promise of victory over tyranny, to ourselves and the enemies of liberty.
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