Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pacifism, militarism, patriotism

This article was brought to my attention by Marj Baldwin of Sarasota, FL. Marj is a WW II veteran of the Woman's Army Air Corps. Article written by Jeff Watson - THE ERICKSON TRIBUNE.

Some Americans live with a curious kind of courage. Convinced that violence, retaliation, and war are always wrong, some pacifists put their lives on the line for peace—sometimes in a war zone. Others believe that war is never wrong. Endorsing armed conflict as a necessary evil, some militarists in our culture sensationalize the drama and technology of combat.

In between these moral end-zones is 100 yards of playing field. For many, the playbook of life includes the possibility of a “just war” and of warriors with integrity. That is how Joshua saw it, when he barked out commands: “Do not be afraid …. Be … courageous … the Lord your God fights for you.” Even the Carpenter’s Son surprised people when he said: “[I]f you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.”

It was his love of country that pushed Jacklyn Lucas toward the volcanic island of Iwo Jima. According to Flags of Our Fathers, the North Carolinian: “…[F]ast-talked his way into the Marines at 14…. Assigned to drive a truck in Hawaii … he stowed away on a transport out of Honolulu … landed on D-Day without a rifle … grabbed one lying on the beach and fought his way inland …. Jack and three comrades were crawling through a trench when eight Japanese sprang in front of them … his rifle jammed. As he struggled … a grenade landed at his feet. He yelled a warning … rammed the grenade into the soft ash. Immediately, another rolled in …. Lucas, 17, fell on both grenades …”

Surviving 21 surgeries, Lucas would be forgiven his desertion in Hawaii and become the nation’s youngest recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Pragmatism: finding common ground
According to the American Jewish Historical Society, the battle for Iwo Jima lasted five weeks non-stop. Among the 70,000 Marines who would raise the lag over Suribachi, 1,500 were Jewish—including the first Jewish chaplain ever appointed to the Corps: Rabbi Roland Gittelsohn.

Caring for the fearful and fallen of all faiths, Gittelsohn earned three decorations for his ministry under enemy fire. On that tragic rock, the nation would suffer 25,000 casualties and lose 6,000 of its beloved sons.

To dedicate the massive cemetery on the island, the division quickly organized a joint ceremony. Assigned to deliver a nondenominational sermon, the Rabbi began his preparations. To the surprise of his superiors, the majority of Christian chaplains objected. To save further embarrassment, the rabbi suggested three services.

Delivering his same eulogy to a smaller assembly, this son of Abraham was heartened to spot three Christian chaplains in his audience; one borrowed his meditation and privately distributed it throughout his regiment. Copies were soon traveling home with heartfelt letters from lonely GIs. Unknown to the rabbi, his shunned remarks were soon carried across the wire services, in Time magazine, and even in the Congressional Record.

“Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors … helped in her founding, and other men who loved her with equal passion because they … or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores. Here lie officers and men, Negroes and Whites, rich men and poor … together. Here are Protestants, Catholics, and Jews together. Here no man prefers another because of his faith or despises him because of his color. Here there are no quotas …. Among these men, there is no discrimination. No prejudices. No hatred. Theirs is the highest and purest democracy …. Whosoever of us lifts his hand in hate against a brother, or who thinks himself superior to those who happened to be in the minority, makes of this ceremony and the bloody sacrifice it commemorates, an empty, hollow mockery. To this … as our solemn duty … do we … now dedicate ourselves: to enjoy the democracy for which all of them have here paid the price …”

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