Posts Tagged ‘war’

(I originally posted this to Facebook on Memorial Day in 2012. An atheist friend and a religious right friend both “liked” it. I thought it worth posting here too, because I’m in the middle of writing another post called “A Time to Hate,” about the place of violence relative to the path of love, and they seem to be related.)

Some of America’s wars are more noble than others. But that’s about us and the leaders we select, and not about those who served.

Today is set aside for those who put on the uniform and picked up a weapon because we asked or told them to. Some of them never came home. Some of them came home broken in body and spirit. They all deserve our respect and gratitude.

We owe them, not just today, but every day of the year. Befriend a veteran. Come alongside a grieving or struggling family. Cut them some slack. Listen to them. Learn from them.

And long for the day when, “Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”


16 Ways

Posted: 2011/01/30 in Stories
Tags: , , , ,

I once read a book about Napoleon’s Russian campaign in 1812. You know the story. Napoleon invaded Russia with one of the largest armies ever assembled—something like 600,000 men—in June of 1812. Six months later, something like 5% of them staggered back out of Russia, the rest victims of disease, exposure, combat, starvation and, in some cases, each other.

Like so many bits of history, the disintegration of Napoleon’s Grande Armée on the retreat from Moscow reminds me of just how bad things can get, and just how much people are able to endure.

But the lasting memory for me was how the suffering seemed to divide the soldiers into two categories. Some killed their comrades for a piece of bread. Others would go out foraging, come back with a piece of bread, and divide it 16 ways. They took turns dragging their dead on sledges behind them. Tempting though it must have been, the author didn’t try to explain what made the difference. He just told the stories, as recorded in soldiers’ diaries.

A friend of mine says that she hopes, if it ever comes to it, that she’s the kind of person who will hide Jews in the attic. I hope I’m the kind of person who will divide my last piece of bread 16 ways, and at least for those other 15, for a moment, turn a horrifying retreat into a path of love.