When General Eisenhower wrote his memoirs of the Second World War he titled his work, “The Crusade in Europe”. For him perhaps and for a surety, for the ones who bled and caused others to bleed, this was a concrete reality. I remember asking my deceased father-in-law why, when he was 30 years old with a wife and small child and a service exempt job on a military base, did he choose to go to Europe to fight in WWII. I will never forget the look he gave me, nor his succinct response. He actually jumped as though startled and beheld me much as an astronaut would when eyeing a strange new life form for the very first time. He slowly blinked and said in a voice like Cecil B DeMille, “Why, to save the World of course!”
He fought with the fourth infantry all across the heart of Europe til the very end. Walter was the only man from his company to come home. The stories he told were mind boggling- so much so that many years later I took the time to transcribe what I could remember for his posterity. The best way to summarize these horrors for others is to tell them to watch “Saving Private Ryan”– then multiply it by a factor of three. One story he told was about liberating a concentration camp at the end of the fighting. Walter was a man who, ethnically German, always called the enemies “the Germans” never “the Nazis”: when he saw the camp, and what was in it, and how close it was to the town, he said to me,”Don’t let anybody fool you- those people in the town KNEW exactly what was going on in there. We should have killed them all”.
They went there to win, and win they indeed did– to rid the world of a carbuncle upon its weary visage like one that had never erupted before. I am sure that he would be delighted to know that after the wreck that was the Second World War, and the scraping away of its terrible growth, even to the point of removing almost all of the scar it created on the rind of civilization, the root remained. And it begins to grow again.
The moral issues that were debated upon those miserable gut strewn fields seemed to be solved once and for all. The Godless States recoiled in ruin from the might and determination of those free, moral, and fundamentally charitable peoples that opposed them. The Good Guys it seemed, DO win when it matters most.
From a political standpoint however, it seemed that the only way to defeat the all-encompassing State was to become similar to one; and we dismissed the principle that States and Peoples, just as individuals are not mechanical, but organic. When they go bad, we cannot just start replacing parts and expect them to work properly. If their (or our) hearts are not properly disposed, if they are filled with envy, greed or hate; no amount of political restructuring or financial aid will help. If Goodness, Truth and Beauty, abandoned for comfort, security, and titillation become merely historical aberrations or the musty furniture of a forsaken past, the future becomes sooty and dim. For us now it remains to look beyond the hills from whence comes Our Help.
Another generation of Crusaders has come and gone .Their deeds mighty, their valor true and their hearts pure. Yet the lands in which they strived have reverted to the Enemy.