For love of country they accepted death... ~James A. Garfield
They are still sacrificing, even as we pause to remember the cost to millions of American soldiers. (Wounded Warrior)
Renewed awareness of our soldiers’ courage and suffering – and my debt – emerged from an unlikely source – a book, Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey - the Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle. In the middle of a guided tour of the gilded excesses of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the author and current “caretaker” of the castle also describes the carnage of World War I as she reports how Lady Almina established hospitals for the wounded warriors of her times. She served hundreds (of the millions) of the soldiers who were injured, many of whom returned to combat and die on the battlefields. This legacy is far grander than any castle’s preservation – or the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb, and its subsequent tensions and rivalries.
Less than three decades later, the world was at war, again – the fruit of international politics and a peace treaty. (The Treaty of Versailles) How both the World Wars changed us might well explain why we are still embroiled in war. One general who fought in both wars, describes a legacy Americans – and the world – resist, considering:
We have too many men of science; too few men of God.
We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. Man is stumbling blindly through a spiritual darkness while toying with the precarious secrets of life and death.
The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.
We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. – General of the Army, Omar Bradley (1893-1981) Armistice Day speech to the Boston Chamber of Commerce,1948.
May God deliver those in harm’s way today – and may God build in us a holy reverence for those whose courage cost them their lives, and their loved ones. And please God give us a holy fear of war and deliver us from its evil – and especially that of own making! But may we not shrink from defending our country.
War is evil, but sometimes it is the lesser evil. George Orwell.