Stoneage Ramblings

By John R. Stone

Stephen E. Ambrose is a historian with a half dozen books about WWII to his credit including “D-Day,” “Citizen Soldiers,” “The Victors,” “Eisenhower” and “Band of Brothers” which was made into a video series.

In preparing his books about WWII Ambrose interviewed hundreds of soldiers from folks on the top such as General Dwight D. Eisenhower who headed Operation Overlord, which was the invasion of German held France with a landing at Normandy June 6, 1944, to the soldiers on the front lines who fought and endured through the German surrender not quite a year later.

WWII, which included, of course, a war in the Pacific after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7,1941, took the largest toll of men and women in this nation’s history since the Civil War of the 1860s.

WWII also brought people from all over the United States to realize that it was not just some soldiers from somewhere else who were fighting; it was sons, daughters, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends and neighbors who stepped forward to serve. And over 400,000 from the United States died and many thousands more were wounded.

The people who fought that war are part of what has been referred to as the “Greatest Generation.” They were raised during the depression when everyone suffered from a worldwide economic collapse. Then came WII.

Ambrose writes about the folks in the foxholes freezing during the Battle of the Bulge, about those who led the charges against the enemy and those who were paralyzed by fear when the bullets started flying.

He writes about leadership and how the actions of leaders, some with the ranks of leaders and others who rose up into leadership by their actions, won the war.

These are amazing tales of bravery, sorrow, danger and success. The accomplishments of the “Greatest Generation” brought peace to the United States and much of the world for many years following those traumatic years in the early 1940s.

Service to country is viewed differently these days. Back through the early 1970s men in the United States were subject to the military draft. Since then, the military in the United States has primarily been a volunteer effort.

And military excursions since WWII have included troops in the Persian Golf, Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea and Vietnam with other peace missions to Africa and elsewhere. The U.S. has troops stationed around the world in places, such as South Korea and Poland.

Draftees or volunteers all these people have one thing in common, they put their lives on the line for their country and some of them lost their lives in the process.

To recognize those people who have given their lives for the United States of America we remember their contribution to this nation with Memorial Day.

The following is a prayer chosen by Dwight D. Eisenhower that he heard a company captain offer to his troops in 1943. Eisenhower said that the prayer “struck me more forcibly than almost any other I have heard.”

“Almighty God, we about to be committed to a task from which some will not return. We go willingly to this hazardous adventure because we believe in that those concepts of human dignity, rights and justice Your Son expounded to the world, and which are respected in the government of our beloved country, are in peril of extinction from the earth. We are ready to sacrifice ourselves for our country and our God. We do not ask, individually, for our safe return. But we earnestly pray that You will help each of us to do his full duty. Permit none of us to fail a comrade in the fight. Above all, sustain us in our conviction in the justice and righteousness of our cause so that we may rise above all terror of the enemy and come to You, if called, in the humble pride of the good soldier and in the certainty of Your infinite mercy. Amen.”

Remember those who have given their lives so that we may live as we do today.