It Is A Bridge Too Far
Only If You Are a Coward

This essay completes my trilogy about bridges. The first essay was about my fund raising project to raise a half million dollars for two schools in Taunggyi. Taunggyi is a large city of 400,000 residents although 99% of all Americans are oblivious to the city or where it is located. I would be willing to bet that there are more Americans that know about Taunggyi due to my writing about it in the past couple of years than became aware of it by any other means. Nevertheless, I’ll never forget that name, because my two trips to Myanmar and in particular Taunggyi have radically changed my life. I have written hundreds of articles about Taunggyi and my family who live there. I am a different cat because of them…a very happy cat.

That being said, click on this link, We Are Family in Myanmar, Inc. read all about it on GoFundMe. After many delays, missteps, countless waiting, I can finally begin the fundraising drive to get to my goal of a half million dollars for 1250 laptops for the two schools in Taunggyi where my three granddaughters attend. In addition, I need to have a local service provider improve the Internet service to the two schools in Taunggyi.

The second essay was about the Coffin Bridge in Scotland. Having done a year of post-graduate studies at New College at the University of Edinburgh in the late 60s and returning to Scotland in 2013, I have traveled a great deal throughout the homeland of my ancestors and missed seeing the Coffin Bridge. Sometime, I need to return again to Scotland and visit the Coffin Bridge.

The Coffin Bridge

Whenever I am discussing various dreams of mine with friends, they often question whether or not I can fulfill my various dreams. My retort is the Man in the Arena paragraph from Teddy Roosevelt’s speech at the Sorbonne over a century ago.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Dance with death twice as I have, and your Weltanschauung changes…radically. Death frees you to live including risking your life. I have spoken about this boveant?and intrepid attitude that I possess to a former colleague. In my attempt to be precise, I have used the phrase about it being a bridge too far.

Since I have used the phrase with my friend and many others, I decided to write an essay about the etymology of a bridge too far. I need to clarify what it really means. It comes from a title of a book and of a movie by the same name, A Bridge Too Far. This trailer from the movie will give you a good historical perspective about the issue.

The movie deals with Operation Market Garden, which was initially a British operation that was to sweep northward after landing on Normandy coast. They were to move north toward Holland and out plank the German army. The Allies wanted to control the Rhine. Field Marshall Montgomery was alleged to have said, “…we, my friends, are the cavalry on the way to the rescue!”

While Monty, Montgomery’s nickname, wanted to rescue everyone controlled by the Nazis, he created a military mess during Operation Market Garden campaign in September 1944. The British absolutely stalled the entire invasion of France and the Benelux countries.

The plan was to fly troops behind enemy lines and seize and/or destroy the bridges so that the Germans couldn’t escape. The bridge at Arnhem was the bridge too far. However, the paratroopers had seized the bridge. British Lieutenant-General Browning told Montgomery, the one who came up with the plan for Operation Market Garden that “I think we may be going a bridge too far.” The reason that Arnhem was a bridge too far was due to Monty being an arrogant and an inept general.

A bridge too far

Hence, the world coined the phrase, a bridge too far, as the notion that someone bit off more than they could handle. Some people think that I have bitten off too much, especially raising a half million dollars and returning with 1250 laptops by winter break in less than eight months. Hey, I’m the guy who stuck out his neck in with my dream of helping 1250 students in a developing nation acquire the best education possible.

A bridge too far is a misnomer. In spite of Monty’s stupidity, it wasn’t a bridge too far. Why? It was because of the paratroopers who seized the bridge. Apparently, those soldiers had read and internalized Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena’s speech. Those soldiers weren’t going to be what Roosevelt said if they fail “while daring greatly” each of them “shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I know that I face a great deal of work in the coming few months. However, I have been with some of those students in Taunggyi. I want them to reach their goals educationally in their country. It is far more than just something that I would like to achieve; it is personal.

Several months ago, I emailed Ti Ti, who is my 14-year-old granddaughter in Taunggyi. I asked her to give me five things that she wants to do after college. This is Ti Ti’s response.

I haven't thought all the five things yet. But the first thing I want to be when I grown up is inventor. Just like I told you five years ago. Cause I want to make the world better and also I want to serve my country.

Next, I want to be a data scientist since I am interest in Science, math and engineering.

The next one, I want to be a travel blogger. The reason is I love travelling and love natural beauty

If a young lady in high school wants to make her country and the world a better place, do you think that I am going to sit back and not do all that I can for her, her younger sisters, and her classmates? That isn’t a bridge too far for me.

There are other things in my life that are important dreams. To the casual observer, some might think that some of my other dreams are also a bridge too far. Well, watch me. Watch me in Taunggyi and here in Crown Point.

I listened to Bobby Kennedy who said…

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Finally, remember this. It is a bridge too far only if you are a coward. Shakespeare knew that.

It’s all about legacy.