At this final stop of our walk, I want to acknowledge your participation. You may well be asked cynically what you think you’ve achieved by this. Some inspiration can be drawn from a silent protester during the era of nuclear testing. Amman Hennacy, a Catholic layman, marching alone one day with his sign, was taunted by a reporter who asked: “Do you really think that you can change the world by doing this?” “Oh no” he replied, “I don’t do this to change the world; I do this to keep the world from changing me.”
As you’ve gleaned by now, our prayer focus this year is for the countless victims of war, including soldiers, on all sides of current conflicts. Tonight we remember, and cry out for them, Lord have mercy!
In 2006 a Robert Weitzel wrote satirically that “Victims of War Are Not To Be Seen, Or Heard, Or Mentioned”, and then quoted War Photographer David Leeson who said “The greatest dignity and respect you can give victims of war is to show the horror they suffered…” Tonight we do mention, we do remember, and we pray for them.
Weitzel tells of Joseph Bonham, an American soldier who lost both arms, both
legs, and all of his face to an artillery shell. He could not see or hear or speak. Other than that, ironically, he was healthy and lucid. But that was Joe’s nightmare. He could be kept alive a long time.
Joe remained an anonymous torso until his head tapping was recognized as Morse code. When his message was finally understood, it was assumed he’d gone insane, because Joe asked to be put on exhibit so that children, and parents, and teachers, and politicians, and preachers, and patriots of every stripe could have a close-up look at war’s leavings. It was the only way he could give his nightmare meaning. But Joe Bonham’s request was denied, with the defensive rationale that it was not in the best interest of the country. Having lost everything else, this final vestige of meaning was also stripped from him. He died an “unknown” soldier.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, a highly respected military general during WW2, who later became president of the United States of America, said near the end of his term in office: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, in the final analysis, represents a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed…”
So today we pray. . . for the hungry, the unclothed, and the homeless; for families torn apart by the demands, and the consequences, of war; for widows and orphans; for farmers whose lands have been contaminated, infested with land mines, and waters polluted; for children deprived of schooling, healthcare, and food; or soldiers suffering in army hospitals, bodies maimed, and spirits broken; for mothers and children whose husbands and fathers will never return; for innocent civilians whose homes and communities have been destroyed; for captives subjected to torture.
For all victims of war, we pray, and help us to find ways to be agents of healing, and hope for them, and champions of peace to prevent, and to end wars, Lord have mercy! through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Below: Ike (wearing the hat) and his wife Millie (far right) with some friends.