I hope everyone had a great Armistice Day on Sunday. That’s right “Armistice Day!”
I hope everyone had a great Armistice Day on Sunday. That’s right “Armistice Day!” Of course it is now “Veteran’s Day.” Originally, however, it was a day to remember the Armistice that ended World War I; the war to end all wars. At 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, finally it was “all quiet on the western front.” World War I ended. In 1917, the yanks did go “over there,” but tragically 130,000 didn’t come home. The Huns were forced to accept responsibility for the carnage and made to pay burdensome reparations to the victors. Sadly, those tributes resulted in the German economy crashing; a consequent deep depression, a political vacuum that allowed the rise of the Nazi party with Adolph Hitler as its leader. Subsequently 6 million Jews were slaughtered, the 3rd Reich ravaged Europe, and America again had to defeat Germany. The war to end all wars didn’t work out quite as expected, but America’s horrible cost was 130,000 dead Americans. Sadly peace did not last. On Dec. 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan attacked without warning Pearl Harbor, resulting in horrific death and destruction to Americans. Shortly thereafter, Nazi Germany declared war on the United States. The “greatest generation” answered the call to defend our nation and ultimately defeated both Japan and Germany. That truly was a glorious victory for all Americans. In 1945, Nov. 11 was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day to always remember and ever honor those who gave so much to save so many. In that great crusade more than 400,000 gave the last full measure of valor and gave their lives. It was a heavy price, but the cause was just, and the victory a must. To end that great conflict America ushered in the nuclear age, leaving the pall of a mushroom cloud of atomic power that still haunts all humanity. America saved the western world, but today waste from a Japanese nuclear melt-down washes ashore on our Pacific beaches. So many young people died! Yet even in victory the war left an anxious and uneasy world. In 1950, we went forth to defend South Korea from the aggression of North Korea. The evil Communists invaded across the 38 parallel, the dividing line between the two artificially created Korean nations. As we advanced north, the Communist Chinese came to the aid of the North Koreans. We were driven back to the 38 parallel where the whole thing began. Finally a truce was proclaimed that ended the conflict, but some 36,000 Americans returned in flag-draped coffins. Even today, we remain where we started with hostile forces looking across that demarcation line, the 38th parallel. So many brave young Americans seem to have died for nothing. We then went to the aid of South Vietnam to defend a rather questionable democracy from those evil invading Communists. We fought for 11 years, sacrificed 50,000 Americans dead, and then we slipped away with no victory. Recently summer tours were advertised for Americans to visit Saigon or even Hanoi. The names of the 50,000 dead are engraved on a granite wall in D.C. What a horrible price our young paid for questionable cruises and ebony engravings. Finally, in response to a cowardly terrorist’s attack upon America’s World Trade Center and Pentagon, we launched a pre-emptive invasion of a nation that was not even a party to the attack. We conquered Iraq, hung its leader Saddam Hussein, and replaced him with his sworn enemies. We installed a government of Shiite Muslims in place of Hussein’s Sunni leadership. These two religious groups had long been antagonists, having fought an eight-year war: The Sunnis of Iraq against the Shiites of Iran. Now with Shiites in control of Iraq and Iran, these two countries could unite into a much stronger enemy of America. The Iraq war cost more than 7,000 American lives. What we accomplished was an Iran seeking nuclear weapons, with Iraq covering its back. The President seems to have ended this war, but it too didn’t go as planned and surely accomplished little. There remains only Afghanistan, where we’re still fighting the Taliban, who never attacked the U.S. They did provide training grounds for the al-Qaida terrorists who did attack us, but the Taliban became our enemy when we invaded their land. The battle dead are roughly 2,000. I pray that we can soon depart with no more flag-draped coffins coming home first. Yet, we still have Veterans Day to remember, honor, and give thanks for all who have served. That is a good thing. A Sunday cartoon in the Hutch News, however, shows a Cub Scout saluting the flag and wishing all a “Happy Veterans Day.” His canine companion mutters, “It is also a sad day, for all those veterans who are no longer with us.” I agree very much with the puppy. I can’t tally the total number of dead warriors. Simply to review the great number of American war dead is heart-wrenching. Ben Franklin said it best, “there is no good war, and there is no bad peace!” When will we learn to “seek peace and pursue it” as Scripture commands? On days like Veterans Day as we unfurl the flags, beat the drums and sound the bugles, let us always remember how often our flag covered a coffin, our drum beat was a dirge, and our bugle sounded “Taps.” Can we hope for a day when Veterans Day will only be a memory for there will be no more Veterans for war will be no more? We have a President who is the recipient of the Noble Peace Prize; he is a man of peace. Let us support him and pray that his leadership will ensure that America seeks peace and pursues it. Wars are so deadly and seem seldom to accomplish much good. Might the President create a Department of Peace that would share his Cabinet and his counsel? All the world would breathe easier.