Monday, April 15, 2013

Why Write an Essay by William Orlando Darby

Last week I had the great fortune to attend the 2013 Best Ranger Competition at Fort Benning, Georgia.  While there, I met Joe and Liz Armstrong.  Joe is a Ranger veteran and they both are working on the Darby Legacy Project.  Liz forwarded me this essay this morning.  RLTW Karl

1929 Fort Smith High School Yearbook
Of all the atrocious problems that are assigned to the modern high school student the writing of an essay heads the list.
I agree with the long dead physician of Peter II of Russia when he said, “The affairs of state depend largely upon the mood in which my master awakens.” His “jovial” monarch was known on one day to arise and calmly distribute among his courtiers millions of rubles. Then on the following morning, he arose in a sordid and melancholy mood and lined up these courtiers and deliberately snuffed out their lives with the point of a sword. So it is with every man, especially myself. Sometimes I awaken in a mood of taciturnity and melancholy and then I awaken in a mood of sublime exultation.
It was in this blissful mood of exuberance that I arose one day last week and sauntered happily through those great portals of learning known as Fort Smith Senior High School. But alas – my happiness was soon to be destroyed. As the hour of eleven thirty drew near a feeling of impending calamity settled on me, and try as I would, I could not shake it off. Finally, at the set hour, I merged cautiously into my English classroom. There – there inscribed on a rectangular piece of slate were written words – words that made my blood run cold- words that change my feeling of happiness to one of nausea and abhorrence – words that made me feel as if the world was slipping from under me. I sank limply into my desk and weakly copied those diabolic words, “Write an essay of your own – the subject matter and length of it to be of your own choice.”
I plodded slowly homeward; however my slow gait was not happy thoughts by to a depressing state of morbidness. My feet seemed laden with lead. My heart felt as if a red-hot blade was piercing it.
After reaching home and undergoing an oral examination concerning my health and school work from mater, and financial denunciation from pater, I retired to my room and contemplated whether I should join the Navy or become a professional bum. Then suddenly came the long needed inspiration from Heaven. I would defy the world. I would disregard my school work and my health – I would be heedless of what it cost my father per annum – I would write that essay.
But on what subject could I write this premeditated essay?
Again returns that burning question to my mind “Why should I have to write essays?” Let those who will and wish write them, but force me not. Alexander the Great at one time conquered all the known world. Where, pray tell, is a volume of his essays to be found? If perchance he did write essays they must have been poor ones for they have never reached print. Let us take Napoleon Bonaparte, Frederick the Great, Maria Theresa, Catherine de Medici, Thomas Edison and Colonel Charles Lindbergh – again I ask you, where are their essays? Why then, since I am given no answer and since I intend to become great, should I have to tax my soul with the writing of essays?

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