Honor Those Worthy of Honor
It was so horrific that historians named it “the war to end all wars.” It began with the assassination of the heir of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its desire for revenge. It was encouraged by other nations eager to try out their new war machines and to settle old scores. In the aftermath, there were 40 million casualties – killed, wounded, and missing. This was World War I.
But it was the industrialization and dehumanization of this war that made it so terrible. The individual heroism of soldiers and sailors who answered their nation’s call seemed lost in the mass destruction brought on by industrialized war. Battling Dreadnoughts, poison gas attacks, and massed artillery barrages eclipsed the individual sacrifices of so many.
Despite the inglorious way so many lives were snuffed out, these brave soldiers and sailors were mourned no less by those who loved them. And millions of families yearned and prayed for the missing remains of their loved ones to someday be returned. And, for a time, the bravery and sacrifices of these men were honored by the nations they served.
The recent discovery of a mass WWI grave site has revealed that such bravery and sacrifice are not honored as they used to be. A French archeological team led by Pierre Malinowski, located the final resting place of the doomed 111th Reserve Infantry Regiment from Baden, Germany. The entire regiment went missing in May 1917, when all 270 of its soldiers were buried alive in the Winterburg Tunnel during the Second Battle of the Aisne. French artillery sealed both entrances of the tunnel, condemning all the soldiers inside to an agonizing death.
The army did manage to rescue three soldiers before they died. One of the survivors, Karl Fisser, related the fate of those left behind. “Everyone was calling for water, but it was in vain. Death laughed at its harvest and Death stood guard on the barricade, so nobody could escape. Some raved about rescue, others for water. One comrade lay on the ground next to me and croaked with a breaking voice for someone to load his pistol for him.”
Pierre Malinowski, eager to bring these men their due honor, explained, “These were farmers, hairdressers, bank-clerks who came willingly to fight this war, and then died in a way that we cannot begin to comprehend.”
But when Malinowski contacted the German War Graves Commission, he was shocked to find a total lack of interest on their part. The Commission’s spokesperson, Diane Tempel-Barnett, stated, “To be honest, we are not very excited about the discovery. In fact, we find it all most unfortunate.”
To think that one day the nation these men fought and died for would not even consider their long-lost remains worth their attention is sickening. Far worse, that they’d deem them a “disturbing intrusion” on their lives is heart-breaking. Why did Diane Tempel-Barnett find the discovery not worth her interest? Does such sacrifice for one’s country reveal her own shallowness? Does their heroism and bravery – though snuffed out so callously – unmask her own weakness, selfishness, and cowardice by comparison?
Our spineless popular culture loves to destroy the heroes of the past. In fact, pop culture must do so, for such heroes expose their own hollowness. And, in place of real heroes, pop culture adores overpaid celebrities, musicians, and athletes who exhibit none of the virtues essential to the building and preserving of a nation.
President John F. Kennedy stated, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.” America cannot allow pop culture to determine the course of its future, or it will have no future. We must honor those whose hard work, sacrifice, and bravery who have secured us our freedoms and safety. And we must expose the hypocrisy, corruption, and cowardice of our pop cultural icons.
“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their way of life, imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7).
PRAYER: Dear Father in heaven, please bless our troubled and misled nation. Please pour forth Your Holy Spirit upon us and breathe a revival in our hearts and across our land. Almighty Father, just as You perform a miracle among the trees and plants in the northern hemisphere – causing them all to spring to life after a long winter of death, perform that miracle in our hearts. May Your Holy Spirit raise us all from death in sin to newness of life in Christ Jesus! Create in us, O God, a hunger and thirst for righteousness and truth – as well as a loathing for sin, perversion, and hypocrisy. Bring us, O God, into the saving embrace of Your holy Son, we pray. Amen.
(Information from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56370510)