Resilient Communities are the Foundations of a Resilient America.

We were young then | November 12, 2018

We were young then

When we heard the trumpet’s call.

We were young then

‘Fore the war to end all wars.

 

We were young then

Embraced by war’s camaraderie.

We were young then

But saw scenes no one should see.

 

We were young then

And home was a distant dream.

We were young then

‘Midst the rain and mud and screams.

 

We were young then

Remembered with a sweetheart’s tears.

We were young then

Now frozen in our years.

Here in the US, it’s Veterans Day.  It started out as Armistice Day celebrating the end of World War I. The last man killed in that butchery was Henry Gunther, the American son of German immigrants (Ironically, he wouldn’t have died if France’s Marshal Foch had not delayed the armistice for almost six hours so that it would fall on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.).

In the stories memorializing that day, the changes in our world are too often glossed over by saying “It was a more innocent time.”  A majority of Americans lived in rural areas (e.g., 60% lived in towns of 2500 less).  Though we had a standing army of nearly 200,000, the Army that fought in France was mostly draftees and volunteers.  Some of the farm boys still learned to march by “Hay foot, straw foot.”  About 120,000 of these young men died – half in combat, the others from disease.

It was a time of small-town small-mindedness but also of small-town love of family and country and community. A town’s churches were more than merely the place we visited on Sundays; they were the social and, often, the political centers of our communities.  Charitable giving was done through the church; the women of the church took it upon themselves to take care of the sick and their families; the men worked together to build the community.

Many of us look wistfully back, wondering whether today’s youth would have the same innocence, the same sense of duty, the same willingness to give their all.  As Viet Nam showed us, some would – but many more would not.

The same is true of our communities – some of us are engaged, but too many are not.  They gave their lives but some of us cannot find five minutes to help make our own communities better places to live.  As you celebrate this holiday of remembrance, remember what they gave and why.  Remember their devotion to their communities and devote a little of your day – and the days ahead – to making your community a little better.

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I was a young soldier once as well…

CJ-9