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The Army had a new theme song: ‘Anything you can do, we can do better!’ And they meant anything, including up-to-date hornpipes!
7 pages, with a reading time of ~0.25 hours (1,881 words), and first published in 1954. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2014.
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General Wingrove looked at the rows of faces without seeing them. His vision went beyond the Congress of the United States, past the balmy June day to another day that was coming. A day when the Army would have its destined place of authority.
He drew a deep breath and delivered what was perhaps the shortest speech ever heard in the hallowed halls of Congress:
“The General Staff of the U.S. Army requests Congress to abolish the archaic branch of the armed forces known as the U.S. Navy.”
The aging Senator from Georgia checked his hearing aid to see if it was in operating order, while the press box emptied itself in one concerted rush and a clatter of running feet that died off in the direction of the telephone room. A buzz of excited comment ran through the giant chamber. One by one the heads turned to face the Naval section where rows of blue figures stirred and buzzed like smoked-out bees. The knot of men around a paunchy figure heavy with gold braid broke up and Admiral Fitzjames climbed slowly to his feet.
Lesser men have quailed before that piercing stare, but General Wingrove was never the lesser man. The admiral tossed his head with disgust, every line of his body denoting outraged dignity. He turned to his audience, a small pulse beating in his forehead.
“I cannot comprehend the general’s attitude, nor can I understand why he has attacked the Navy in this unwarranted fashion. The Navy has existed and will always exist as the first barrier of American defense. I ask you, gentlemen, to ignore this request as you would ignore the statements of any person … er, slightly demented. I should like to offer a recommendation that the general’s sanity be investigated, and an inquiry be made as to the mental health of anyone else connected with this preposterous proposal!”
The general smiled calmly. “I understand, Admiral, and really don’t blame you for being slightly annoyed. But, please let us not bring this issue of national importance down to a shallow personal level. The Army has facts to back up this request–facts that shall be demonstrated tomorrow morning.”
Turning his back on the raging admiral, General Wingrove included all the assembled solons in one sweeping gesture.
“Reserve your judgment until that time, gentlemen, make no hasty judgments until you have seen the force of argument with which we back up our request. It is the end of an era. In the morning the Navy joins its fellow fossils, the dodo and the brontosaurus.”
The admiral’s blood pressure mounted to a new record and the gentle thud of his unconscious body striking the floor was the only sound to break the shocked silence of the giant hall.