November 11, 2011

In Memoriam

11 November 1918 – End of World War I.

Day when the Germans signed a peace treaty with the Allies. 

Total accountable casualties:

9 million soldiers dead.
21 million soldiers wounded.
5 million civilians dead.

Reason for war:  European internecine power struggle.  (Isn’t power a usual motive for such things?  Though I think religious fervor might be another strong reason.  I know, that’s the cynic in me talking.  However, I do believe many have fought and still do for what I call a Greater Ideal.)

Other wars since then?  Yep, many.  Too many.  I started listing them all (found this neat website here), but realized that my post would end up being depressingly huge.

So instead, on this Veterans’ Day, I’ve decided to focus on those almost never mentioned in history books, the soldiers who, whether for noble reasons or others, have put their lives on the line for their country.  May they never be forgotten.

Letter from 19-year old Lance-Corporal Frank Earley writing back to his father, a day before he departed):

Sunday afternoon, 1 Sep, 1918.

My dear Father,

It is a strange feeling to me but a very real one, that every letter now that I write home to you or to the little sisters may be the last that I shall write or you read.  I do not want you to think that I am depressed; indeed, on the contrary, I am very cheerful.  But out here, in odd moments the realization comes to me of how close death is to us.  A week ago I was talking with a man, a catholic, from Preston, who had been out here for nearly four years, untouched.  He was looking forward with certainty to going on leave soon.  And now he is dead – killed in a moment during our last advance.  Well it was God’s will.

I say this to you because I hope that you will realize, as I do, the possibility of the like happening to myself.  I feel very glad myself that I can look the fact in the face without fear or misgiving.  Much as I hope to live thro’ it all for your sakes and my little sisters!  I am quite prepared to give my life as so many have done before me.  All I can do is put myself in God’s hands for him to decide, and you and the little ones pray for me to the Sacred Heart and Our Lady. 

I hope that you will not move out of the old house yet.  Write and let me know when anything happens.  I see that you went to Preston a few days ago.  It seems years and years since I tried to get drowned in the canal. 

Well I have not much time left and I must end. 

With my dear love.  Pray for me.

Your son

Frank.

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