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"War is Hell". This quote has been around since the American Civil war. Union General William T. Sherman (famous for his march to the sea, and the burning of Savannah and Atlanta) is attributed with having said it. Some would say, 'he would know'. For myself; believing there is an eternal destination for everyone, and believing Hell to be an authentic place, I can not agree wholeheartedly with General Sherman, that war is indeed hell. However, in the light of human experience I will agree; on this earth, war is as close to Hell as can be imagined.
Only those men and women who have experienced war, with all it's atrocities can make comparisons as to what it is, and is not like. I have known men who loved this country, and served during war time. These men only seemed to share the sanitized version of their experience. My father for instance, a Navy man,often talked about the camaraderie he had with his fellow sailors, the theatre in which he served(South Pacific), the ships on which he was deployed, and his deep affection for the Navy. The memory of his, affection renders it impossible for me to sing, or hear sung, the Navy fight song with out weeping. However, if asked about specifics of war, it was with brevity that he spoke. The closest he ever came to sharing the realities of war was in relating this story: "It was a beautiful calm day, on a beach in the South Pacific. The sky was a breathtaking blue, and the sea as always, was stunning. Then, out of the quiet and seemingly out of nowhere, came the unmistakable buzz. Looking up, he could see the vivid orange mark, on the Japanese Zeros, descending on the beach." Then pandemonium...
This particular scene was unpredictable, as I gather are most events of war. It profoundly affected my father. I only know this to be true, in that he had dreams surrounding the attack on the beach. This was long after the war was over. His dreams took him back to the events of war, but not the place of war. He would dream, quite pleasantly at first,of working in his garden.The dream quickly turned to a nightmare. Hearing a light buzz and looking up,as the noise grew louder, he could see in the distance the hoard of orange spotted Zeros.They were descending over the green mountain on which our home was situated. He would awaken with a start, having begun his run for the house and his family. He had this dream well into his old age.
I do not know whether my father-in-law, dreamt of World War II; though he certainly had cause. He was a bombardier and flew over seventy missions in the European theatre. On at least one occasion he was shot down, and had to make his way back home without being caught by the enemy. He seldom spoke of war, and when he did, he never talked about 'what a hero' he was. He did tell me, he never wanted to see one of his three sons go to war.
These men had to be badgered to discuss the war, and their accomplishments therein. Perhaps humility was the cause of their tight-lips. Perhaps, more significantly, these men, and others like them, could not bring themselves to divulge the tragedies forced upon them, while fighting for a worthy cause. A cause for which they were willing to die. How does a man climb the gang plank of a ship, or board a plane knowing this could be the last voyage, the last battle? How did they do it over and over again? Finally, having done that, how do they communicate it to someone who has not? It is incomprehensible.
Men, and now women, are still boarding vessels and aircraft. They sail and fly into the unknown, facing the ultimate risk and doing it every day. Memorial Day is celebrated for same such men and women. It is the remembrance of our heroes, those of the past and present, the dead and living.
Stop and remember those who served, here and abroad. Recall the sacrifice of families. Resolve not to let the day go unnoticed. It is not necessary to lay a wreath, visit a cemetery, or attend a Memorial Day service (though these are excellent tributes). Simply take the time to think about, the 'who', the 'where', the 'why'. The 'why' may not concur with your political line of thinking, but you can pray for the 'who'. If you do not have a 'Who' serving, talk to a friend, and pray for their 'Who'. Place that name on your refrigerator and pray for him by name, when it is not Memorial Day. Remember the 'where'. Your 'Who' is likely serving in a very uncomfortable, unstable environment. Pray accordingly. Don't be shy about saying thank you.You need'nt have an intimate relationship with the 'Who', to express gratitude for his sacrifice of service. Finally, when appropriate, help bear the weight of a families loss.
Abraham Lincoln, in his second inaugural address read these words. " With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who has borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan-to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
Memorial Day is a prompt driving us to remember. On this day and forever, may we never forget!
"Anchors Aweigh !", "Semper Fidelis !", "Integrity First !", "This We Will Defend !", "Semper Paratus !" God bless America!
- William Tecumseh Sherman Quotes. William T. "War is Hell" Sherman
Famous and infamous quotes from William Tecumseh Sherman