"Not for fame..."
Thank you I. T., and Good morning, Gentlemen.
As the years go by, I find that my memory
is less and less reliable – and I think some of
you may be familiar with that condition – so I
wrote out what I wanted to say today, and I hope you’ll
bear with me as I read it to you.
A little over a year ago, I called IT
and asked him if I could have a few minutes to address
this group at the April 2003 breakfast. I wanted to
share with you a brief description of a WWII episode
between General George Patton and his Chaplain, which
I thought had relevance to what we were just getting
into in Iraq. He agreed, and some of you may remember
hearing me at this meeting a year ago.
A few days ago, IT phoned and asked
me to repeat the story this year, and I agreed. As I
thought about it, I remembered some words from another
chaplain, about some other soldiers, in another war,
which I thought it would be appropriate to share with
you, so I’m going to include them, too. In fact,
I’ll start with them.
But first, let me ask, how many of you
are not native Georgians?... OK. You may get more out
of this first part than the natives.
In about three weeks, Georgia will celebrate
Confederate Memorial Day. In 1874, Georgia officially
designated a day to formally honor the lives of Confederate
soldiers and the sacrifices they made. The date set
for this purpose was April 26th, in recognition of the
date in 1865 when General Joseph E. Johnston (who was
in command of the Confederate troops from Georgia) surrendered,
marking the end of the War for Georgia. Most Southern
states celebrate Confederate Memorial Day, but not all
of them on the same date. Florida joined Georgia in
celebrating on April 26th, but other Southern states
have chosen other dates for other reasons; e.g., North
and South Carolina celebrate it on May 10th, the anniversary
of Jefferson Davis’ capture; Louisiana and Tennessee
celebrate on June 3rd, Jefferson Davis’ birthday;
and Texas celebrates it on January 19th, General Robert
E. Lee’s birthday. Why do any of them celebrate
a Confederate Memorial Day? Here are the words of Confederate
Chaplain Randolph McKim, as inscribed on the Confederate
Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery:
“Not for fame, not for place or
rank, not lured by ambition nor goaded by necessity,
but in simple obedience to duty as they understood it,
these men suffered all, sacrificed all, dared all, and
Gentlemen, I believe the words Chaplain McKim wrote
about Confederate troops, are equally applicable to
our troops in Iraq.
Not politicians in Washington, but troops
on the ground in Iraq.
During the last year, >10, 000 of
them have been wounded and
> 600 of them have died. Paraphrasing
“ not for fame, not for place
or rank, not lured by ambition nor goaded by necessity,
but in simple obedience to duty as they understood it,
these men, and women, suffered all, sacrificed all,
General Robert E. Lee provided the guidance
for them a hundred and fifty years ago when he wrote:
"Do your duty in all things. You
cannot do more, you should never wish to do less."
And now, the episode about General Patton
and his Chaplain.
In December 1944, American soldiers
were fighting desperately against the last great German
offensive of World War II, the Battle of the Bulge.
Men were dying in large numbers. Planes could not fly
because of low clouds. The US counterattack had bogged
down in mud and rain. (Tullahoma).
General George Patton, commander of
the Third Army, called his chaplain into his headquarters,
and the two men had the following exchange:
Patton began by addressing the Chaplain:
I want you to publish a prayer for good weather. I'm
tired of these soldiers having to fight mud and floods
as well as Germans. See if we can't get God to work
on our side.
Chaplain James O'Neill: May I say,
General, that it usually isn't a customary thing among
men of my profession to pray for clear weather to kill
Patton: Chaplain, are you teaching
me theology or are you the Chaplain of the Third Army?
I want a prayer. O'Neill: Yes, sir.
The prayer was printed on a card and
distributed to every soldier of the Third Army. It read:
Almighty and most merciful God, we
humbly beseech thee, of thy great goodness, to restrain
these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend.
Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken
to us as soldiers who call upon thee that, armed with
thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and
crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies,
and establish thy justice among men and nations. Amen.
An editor's footnote in Patton's memoirs
tells what happened next:
"The day after the prayer was
issued, the weather cleared and remained perfect for
about six days. Enough to allow the Allies to break
the backbone of the German offensive and turn a temporary
setback for the Allies into a crushing defeat for the
Gentlemen, regardless of what you think
of President Bush’s decision to attack Iraq, the
fact is that we have more than a hundred thousand young
American men and women in uniform, in harm’s way,
and they deserve our prayers. I pray for them every
day, and I would ask you to do the same.
I.T. invited me to end this with a short
prayer, so I’ll ask you to bow your heads and
There are young American women far from
home,serving their nation.
We pray You keep them safe, we
pray You keep them strong, we
pray You send them safely home ...
Bless those who await their safe return.
And Bless those who mourn the MIAs,
the more than 10,000 wounded, and the more than 600
Killed In Action.
In Jesus name we ask ...
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