- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 11, 2018


The “war to end all wars,” for many of us, is also the “forgotten war.”


World War II — the war that the First failed to prevent — is near enough in history that we all have heard stories of the heroics in London, valor on the beaches of Normandy and courage in the mountains of Italy. And, of course, the Pacific, though the brutality of that fighting rendered it unspeakable for many of those who returned.

The memory of World War II is also aided by the proliferation of photography at that time, which allowed for the capture of those battles so much more vividly than humans could have imagined just a few decades earlier.

The Revolutionary War and the Civil War were, for all of us Americans, local affairs.

With it’s simple and clear stories of unimaginable victories over insurmountable odds, the Revolution is unforgettable. And it lives on today in our founding documents and even the most routine political speeches.

The Civil War — oh, that stray cur dog of a war. So many of us find the history compelling, even as we struggle with what it reveals about our past.

Another reason that particular war is so unforgettable to us a century and a half later is that so many people over the years since have erected monuments to the bravery and sacrifice of so many soldiers on both sides of that terrible conflict.

How shallow and stupid it is today that so many choose to relitigate the politics of the past in terms twisted by modern notions that distort the noble actions of those who sacrificed so much.

Often, all.

As a starting point, we should first and foremost revere those who put their state and their country and their families ahead of their own selfish interests, as evinced by those monuments. Then — and only then — might we undeserving inheritors begin to figure out how to make the country they bequeathed to us a better place.

But what of that First World War, the war that ended with Armistice Day 100 years ago Sunday?

It was a war that introduced the world to intractable trench warfare, where enemies dug in to hold the line or die trying. A soldier had to survive bullets and mortars, as well as disease and starvation.

In a hallowed tribute to the memory of World War I and all who selflessly served in that treacherous fight, churches across the country — tiny simple country churches to the sprawling National Cathedral — rang out 21 chimes of the bell on the 11th hour or the 11th day of the 11th month of the year.

Not 12 hours before, incoming Congressman Dan Crenshaw, a Navy SEAL elected last week to Congress from Texas, joined the set of “Saturday Night Live.” One week before, Mr. Crenshaw had been ridiculed during a skit on “SNL” for wearing an eyepatch covering the eye he had lost in Afghanistan.

As Mr. Crenshaw noted amid the ensuing fury, he tries not to offend people and tries even harder to not be offended.

So there he was on the set of “SNL,” gamely mocking back those who had so trivialized his unimaginable sacrifices, and thereby making yet another sacrifice so others might find forgiveness.

“There’s a lot of lessons to learn here,” Mr. Crenshaw said on camera after all the joking. “Not just that the left and right can still agree on some things. But also this: Americans can forgive one another.”

It was a good reminder these days of why we should cherish and hold the sacrifices so many have made in all wars from our rich history.

Contact Charles Hurt at [email protected] or on Twitter @charleshurt.

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