Monday, November 12, 2018

Veteran's Day: What We've Learned In 100 Years

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

One hundred years ago yesterday, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice went into effect that ended 4 years of bloody fighting, and more than a few military miscalculations.

It was the "War to end all Wars."

What we've learned in 100 years.

Some thoughts from James "Jim" Pinkerton who served on the White House staff of President Reagan, Victor Davis Hanson, a leading expert and historian on warfare and contemporary politics, and from my grandmother, who was the mother of two veterans.

Be informed.

Some thoughts on WWI and the necessity and art of war.

Jim Pinkerton wrote a lengthy article this weekend detailing the strategic miscalculations in WWI.

He also included a gallery of pictures from the battlefield of the war that brings the reader very close to the realities of the front lines of war. I suggest you at least glance at them.

He concludes with these observations:

So we can see: If the world contains many lions, it’s not a good idea to be a lamb. The Roman military strategist Vegetius had it right in the fourth century: If you want peace, prepare for war.
And so as we think about America’s role in World War I, we should rightly think of the heroes of that conflict, such as Alvin York, further immortalized in the 1941 film starring Gary Cooper.
Yet precisely because we remember past heroes, we should be thinking constantly about the safety of future heroes. The first way to assure their safety, of course, is to avoid unnecessary wars, including wars of choice, but sometimes, inevitably, without any fault of our own, war will come.

Pinkerton reviews that many feel, to this day, that WWI was a futile war because of the tactical mistakes---including the way it ended.

But, he says, "Once you are in a war of national survival, there's no point thinking about whether it's 'futile' or 'unnecessary'. Instead, the point is to win it, with as few casualties as possible---or, more precisely, with as few casualties on your side as possible."

He says, "So we must be prepared for war. As the ancient Roman Vegetius knew, preparation for war is the best preparation for peace."

And he says, "We can pray that all wars we fight are necessary wars, but we must prepare, too, so that we can win them all."

Victor Davis Hanson describes the confusion among both friend and foe in the "hell" of WWI. How the war ended so strangely, how the three allies even squabbled over the peace terms, and how President Woodrow Wilson was idolized when he arrived in France for peace talks in December of 1918---and was hated for being self-righteous when he left 6 months later.

He says the Treaty of Versailles proved a disaster, at once too harsh and too soft. Its terms were far less punitive toward Germany---a lesson later learned---In the end, the Allies were "unforgiving of Germany in the abstract but not tough enough in the concrete."

The allies had declared it to be the "War to end all wars"---in the end, the exhausted warriors told the world they never wanted to go to war again.

The "final" war had ceased, but had not been not won.

Within a few years, the humiliated Germans would rise again and WWII would engulf the planet and wipe out 60 million lives.

Davis notes:

  • Keeping the peace is sometimes even more difficult than winning a war.
  • Losers of a war cannot pick and choose when to quit fighting.
  • Deterrence prevents war.

The inevitability of war.

Jesus said (Matthew 24:6,7,8 ):
"And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."

While some in the peace movement may be sincere and well-intentioned, there will be wars and rumors of wars until the end. Nations will rise up against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms.

Our best experts all agree. We must be prepared.

Messages from the battlefield to home and family.

As we honor those who have and do serve our country, there are events all across this nation this weekend that show the deep love and appreciation we have for those who serve their country and all of us will are blessed to live here.

Yesterday, on the 11th, words from letters written on that day, 100 years earlier, from veterans to their mothers, wives and loved ones were read at a Paris ceremony.

One letter began:
"Today has been perfectly wonderful. We got news of the armistice at 9:30 this morning..", another letter said, "The war is over and in an hour we will leave. We will never have to come back here."

Another letter said,
"At 11 am, arms and work stopped everywhere...In the city [Paris] there was already a sea of people: men women young and old, soldiers and civilians, people of all skin colors marched together, hand in hand, singing or cheering."

And one soldier wrote to his mother: "Am I dreaming? I wonder if I am...as soon as I realize how happy I am, I think of my brother and sister, both victims of the war, and my eyes mist over."

A message from home to the battlefield.

My mother's mother, my grandmother, wrote a poem to her oldest son, my uncle, the late Laurel Miller while he served in the South Pacific from 1943-1945. She was responding to a poem he had written to her.

A Mother's Vision:
Dear Son, With pride your poem I read, And I sensed plain truth in the words that you said. Tho, bullets are flying far away, Some mother's boy will have to pay---with his lifeblood for freedom that we might live---the supreme sacrifice he will give.
And somehow I---as I read those lines so true, I'm wondering if we are doing all we can do---for these dear boys who face the 'Call' leaving families and sweethearts, giving their all.
And I pondered that question in my heart. And I said ---'Dear God help me to do my part---on that battle so far away, Help me, Oh God, to always pray for the Laddies out there who mean to stand, till freedom reigns on sea and land.
Then a voice I heard so soft and low---'Mothers' it said 'you too can go, to that battle field beyond the seas---But remember your place will be on your knees, It's not by power. It's the spirit of prayer that will win this fight'!
A Purple Heart you may never wear, But Hearts of Gold are fighting there---Who need your prayers and courage too, that they might win and come back to you.
I bowed my head, I vowed anew, whatever the cost I will be true to God the Father, God the Son, And millions of fighting Boys as One, And send a Prayer as a shaft of light, to those boys---through the long dark night---and make it so real that every boy can feel---a Nail-scarred Hand placed in his own---a presence that is leading and guiding them home.

God bless America and those who serve our country.