A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker
KNOWN BUT TO GOD
Nestled in northeast
At least, it is today.
But it hasn’t always been. Situated near the French-German border, the
picturesque hamlet has often been under siege.
In A.D. 451, for example, it was the place where Attila and his Huns
suffered ignominious defeat at the hands of the Romans and Visigoths. During World War II the Germans used the
This is a town that knows all about paying tribute
to those who have fallen in combat.
After all, it has been doing so for millennia. So it seems somehow appropriate that one of
On an autumn day in 1921, four caskets lay in
state in the Hotel de Ville, which also served as the
Sgt. Younger was well aware of the significance of
his duty. He had served valiantly during
World War I, which had ended with the signing of the Armistice ending
“Were any of them here?” he wondered as he walked around the caskets three times. As he started around for the fourth time, he said he felt “involuntarily drawn” to the second one. So he solemnly marched toward it, gently laid a bouquet of white roses upon it, saluted and then turned to report to his commanding officer that his mission had been accomplished.
Do you see the irony of that? We refer to these soldiers as “unknown,” but in fact they WERE known – deeply and intimately – by loved ones who missed them desperately when they failed to return from war. The real “unknowns” in this equation is us – “we, the people” for whom they died. They didn’t know us. Most had no connection to us whatsoever. And yet they fought and died for us – known or unknown – and for something they believed in. Something greater than self. Something more precious, even, than a man’s own good name: freedom
Which is why I appreciate the sentiment of the inscription on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – “Here rests in honored glory an American Soldier Known but to God” – but I don’t buy it. I feel like I know this guy, and other “unknowns” of his generation and others. I know what they stood for. I know what they fought for. I know what they died for.
Even if I don’t know their names.
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Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.