Should my wife and I
ever visit Europe I want to see "Mourning Parents". Artist
Kathie Kollwitz placed sorrowful stone likenesses of herself and her
husband at the Vladslo War Cemetery near Ypres overlooking the
grave of her son Peter and 25,000 of his fellows killed 1914-1918. It
is said that one visiting the Verdun, the Somme and Passchendaele
battlefields can see a half-dozen or more World War l cemeteries from
any point along the hundreds of miles of trench lines. Lt.
and poet Wilfred Owen, killed in the last week of the war, said of
this mass sacrificing of millions that it was as if this time, this
century, Abraham disobeyed Gods' command to stay his knife above
Isacc's trusting chest:
"The Parable of the Young Man and
So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and
And took the fire with him, and a
And as they sojourned, both of them
Isaac the first-born spake, and said,
Behold the preparations, fire and
But where the lamb for this
Then Abram bound the youth with belts
And builded parapets the trenches
And stretched forth the knife to slay
When lo! an angel called him out of
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew
And half the seed of Europe, one by
We must support the Soldiers
Monumental Association in their striving to preserve Memorial Hall.
One of the most massive buildings downtown Memorial Hall testifies to
the deep need of Civil War veterans that we remember their
unbelievable sacrifice. The Civil War saw 600,000 killed out of
a population of 31 million. If fought today, we would have lost
6 million dead. The Civil War monument at the entrance to Forest
Cemetery, the tallest structure there, reminds me of the somber and
honest memorials in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg. No monuments
to bravery, valor or patriotism here as combat is none of these
things, it is only terror. As in the Wheatfield, where opposing
regiments murdered each other taking 90% casualties, the monument at
Forest reads starkly " To our dead comrades".
My father and his brothers served in
World War ll with the integrity and character of Capt. John Miller
from the film "Saving Private Ryan". I worked a year in the
early 80's as an RN on an acute psychiatry unit at the Brecksville VA.
I got fairly good, by my assessment anyway, at playing pool with the
guys. The VA was just opening up their Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
program then. The vets of WWll, Korea, Vietnam, their hands trembled
like Capt. Miller's relating to us not so much what had happened
to them, but what they had to do to other human beings.
Regarding the recent death of Osama
Bin Laden and the joyous reactions of many, even pastors from the
pulpit proclaiming it God's will, I quote World War ll veteran, POW
and author Kurt Vonnegut from his preface to "Slaughterhouse
Five". Vonnegut survived the US/British firebombing of Dresden
February 1945 that killed tens of thousands of civilians.
Vonnegut writes in 1968, amidst Vietnam headlines :" I have
forbidden my sons to take part in massacres, nor are they to take
delight in news of massacres of enemies." Perhaps God does speak
quietly of peace and justice but, like Owen's Abram, we prefer war--
continuing our occupation of Afghanistan though Al-Qaeda is not there,
invading Iraq though Al-Qaeda was never there.
This Memorial Day tell every veteran
they have lived a good life, that they have earned it, as Private
Ryan's wife confirmed to him standing at Capt. Miller's grave. Welcome
them to life, love and forgiveness. Pray for the family of our own
Gerald R. Jenkins, age 19, killed in Afghanistan. Let's listen to
Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Iraq Veterans Against the War,
Veterans for Peace and honor veterans by making no more of them. If
only peace stirred our blood like war.
--- Brad Cotton
Veterans for Peace, Southern Ohio Chapter.