11 November 2013

Armistice Day. . .

A fitting image for November 11th.

Time to take a few moments to pause quietly and remember those who either serve now, or those who served in previous wars, the fallen as well as the survivors.  I always think of my maternal grandfather and various great uncles, all gone now, who fought during the Second World War.  All really young North Carolina, Georgia, and Massachusetts boys, who were drafted or enlisted during 1942, in the months following Pearl Harbor, and reported without fanfare or protest.  My family was extremely fortunate in that all of them came home more or less intact.  Many others were not so lucky. 

While brightly colored toy soldiers, miniature planes, ships, tanks, and military history are fun and fascinating things, it's worth remembering on a day like today how utterly and indescribably awful real war actually must be for the men and women who experience it firsthand.  My maternal grandmother told me once about a family in Asheville, North Carolina that lost all three or four of its sons at once because they had been allowed to serve in the same unit and shipped out together.  I cannot even begin to fathom how terrible that must have been for that family.  Will the people of Earth ever really be able to get their collective act together and stop killing each other?

A related point that also occurs to me today, November 11th, is the fact that I have had the privilege to meet and know a number of Germans, Japanese, Russians, and followers of the Islamic faith from various corners of the world -- former or perceived current enemies -- during my childhood and into adulthood thanks to things like YMCA summer camp programs and, later, various academic programs and pursuits.  What amazing experiences those opportunities have been over the years.  Without wishing to sound too preachy, life has been made so much more interesting because of these acquaintances, to the degree that it is difficult to imagine killing each other.  And maybe that is the key?  International fellowship and improved understanding, or at least tolerance, through youth programs and education.  If more of us had more opportunities to know each other better, maybe war would make less sense in the future?  Which might just make real life playing with guns and soldiers obsolete one day.  Now, there's an idea.


CelticCurmudgeon said...

My Dear Heinz Ulrich,

Your compassionate note left me quite impressed and in full agreement with its sentiment. Sadly, the past thirty years or so have indicated that even though people can live side by side for hundreds of years that does not prevent the most brutal of slaughter, rapine and related violence.

Proximity must travel hand in hand with empathy and a willingness to be tolerant of others. When it does not there is no guarantee that the horror of war will not reappear.

I share with you the honoring of those who served and are currently serving to bring peace.

Your humble servant,

Gerardus Magnus
Archbishop Emeritus

A/K/A The Celtic Curmudgeon

Fitz-Badger said...

I agree with your post. Like John Lennon said, "Imagine". Maybe some day. Increased contact and knowledge will surely help, along with justice and prosperity and other good things. Of course, it's not a panacea. Still, one can hope.

Der Alte Fritz said...

How can one find peace and common cause with a foe that is so zealous that they are willing to blow themselves up with their own bombs in order to kill as many civilians as possible?

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

I wish I had a good answer.

Best Regards,


A J said...

I agree with your sentiments. The ordinary folk of this world can usually rub along together regardless of their background. Introduce those with an agenda, be it political, religious or just plain greed, then wars happen. And, like the poor, I'm afraid those we shall have with us always.


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