~ I’M NOT SURE, but I may have rolled my eyes. Or, more likely, just looked down and hid my expression.
It was the local RC priest preaching that year for the area Remembrance Day church service, and for some reason he was going on about how war is bad, the evils of war, and the military-industrial something or other, and the assembled veterans and family and community members were restless, and angry at this harangue. How needless, and stupid, and offensive. I suppose his college and seminary professors would have all approved.
And Now, The Rebuttal
The next year, it was my turn to preach. I remembered what had been said the year before. Does anybody really need to tell honest-to-God war veterans that war is horrible, regrettable, wasteful, and messy? No. All I could remember was poring over the photos my Grampa George took of India and Burma, and then– after a certain point– he’d just stop, and get up, crying. The great adventure had that dark side, of deeds done, things seen, friends missing or worse.
I asked God for the wisdom and strength and sensitivity not to waste such an opportunity, nor to ever throw contempt into the faces and hearts assembled there. So I preached to my Grampa, looking out on a sea of gray hair and wrinkled faces. I spoke about the good and bad of war, of people and places remembered, of God’s love known and seen in the worst of times and present with us still in times of peace and freedom, and I actually said “nobody needs to tell the eyewitnesses that war is hell”. I told the story of my Grampa and his happy memories, and his tears. I also said that the peace and freedom for which so many suffered and died was still worth fighting for, so that in the Canada of 1995, we might look to save our unborn, 2 000 000 dead in the last 20 years, that Hitler’s dreams of control over others and the weakest might die once and for all. That the sacrifices of those years not be cast away in our time.
The local RC priest looked daggers at me, partly because he knew this was a rebuttal– but directed to speaking the truth in love, and to those gathered men and women. Afterwards, the centotaph ceremony down, a good number of the vets thanked me for my words.
To my surprise, a big old fellow came up to me, and asked about my Grandfather, and the unit he served in during his Burma days (435 “Chinthe” Transport and Rescue Squadron). “Yes, I thought it might be.” He had known my Grampa, and as we talked, he also broke down in tears. He promised to send me something, and a few weeks later, a photocopied 3-4 page article arrived, detailing the unit, the work, and lo and behold, there in the front row of the picture, sleeves rolled up and brown as a nut was my then-young Grandfather, with all the men of his section posing proud and strong.
In 1995, I head the great honour of helping prepare the service, and preaching at, the provincial gathering for the 50th Anniversary of VE Day, in Louisbourg. I did not tell them that war was bad. 1500 gathered vets, family, military officers, chaplains, and all the rest. I did forget the printed copy of my sermon at home, and spent the first 20 minutes of the ceremony surreptitiously writing down my main points on a stray piece of paper. Eep!
Still, And More
For we are ever more at war, against enemies outside and within, of cowards and surrender-minded folks, of people who really aren’t sure if what we have and who we are is worth believing, defending, let alone dying for. Abortion is down slightly, but most of our murdered pre-born kids are killed for reasons of pleasure, hedonism, and social convenience. 100 000 every year; since I preached that sermon, we’ve slaughtered another 900 000. Hitler’s favourite eugenics– getting rid of the handicapped, elderly, and inferior– is now called family planning. The possible next Prime Minister of Canada is an intellectual and moral lightweight, who panders to militant Islam, and acts the dictator within his own party. You’ll remember his spoiled rich father, Pierre Trudeau, the anti-semite and wartime fascist who thought it a great joke to dress up as a Nazi soldier and drive around in Jewish neighbourhoods of Montreal during the war he avoided serving in.
In 2014, political correctness and totalitarian progressivism represent an auto-immune disease of Western Societies, weakened inwardly, prey to opportunistic infections like radical Islam, abortionism, feminism, intellectual Leftism, open Communism and anti-semitism, racism and so much more. The battle is not over by a long stretch in each year and age– Hitler may be dead, but Hitlerism, Stalinism, Maoism, and other homegrown forms of dictatorship, death, and societal suicide abide with us. And outside, creeping in the gates, comes the wolfish bloody-handed hordes of Mohammedism, head-cutting and seducing, and presenting an impossibly simplistic universe for the same kind of souls who eagerly joined the SS in Germany. Evil is alive, ever seeking opportunity, blood, souls to mislead, and good things to bring down to ruin.
These our our times, our battles. As the spiritual leader of the war against evil in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Gandalf the Grey says:
‘Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.’ ― Gandalf, ‘The Lord of the Rings’, Book V, Chapter 9.
Let us remember, and so remembering, act. ~