Thursday, November 06, 2008

Dona Nobis Pacem



On the wall by the fireplace my mother has a collage of eight photographs. Peering out from the eight openings in the mat are eight uniformed faces from four generations of her immediate family. Four wear the uniform of the US Army, two the US Navy, and two the US Marine Corps. Collectively they represent over 100 years of service and seven combat tours that I have verified. (The actual number is probably eight or nine, but some of the history is a little fuzzy for her.) They also represent all the other members of the family who served, but whose military photos have been lost over the years.

Seven of the eight are no longer with us.

I am the eighth. That's me in the top right hand corner of the frame. And perhaps I am still here so that I can write these words in the hope that they may somehow, someday obviate the need for future photographs like these. Maybe my purpose for still being here is to tell the story of the man in the top center photo.

Of the eight, my maternal grandfather had easily the most distinguished military career. Raised in coal country in the mountains of Pennsylvania, he enlisted during World War II and served in Europe. Later he served in Korea, and still later in Vietnam. In between those last two combat tours, he became the first NCO in history to serve as Provost Sergeant of both the post and the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth, KS. During the Vietnam War, he served as Division Sergeant Major for the 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning). When he retired in 1974, he was next in line for Command Sergeant Major of the Army -- the Army's highest ranked NCO posting.

And the war stories from him I heard as a child and a young man?

Zero.

Not one.

I'm sure he had stories to tell. But he chose not to tell them. He never said why and I never asked. It was simply not discussed. But when he left the army, this man who grew up hunting and fishing in the mountains broke down and packed away all of his personal firearms. From that day until the day he died in 2002 he never picked up another gun.

He got it. He understood. All of his experiences taught him the concept that became the theme for my Peace Globe.

An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

There's nothing about war that's "glorious". Not even for the so-called "winners". It's ugly, and it's brutal and it's about as far from glorious as you can get. It reeks of death and sorrow. It's covered in mud and grime and blood and shit. And nobody knows that better than those who have seen it.

So for the other seven faces in my mother's frame, and for those in every other mother's heart, I offer up this plea.

Dona Nobis Pacem. Grant us peace.Stumble Upon Toolbar

40 comments:

FickleMinded said...

Happy BlogBlast For PEACE!

Dianne said...

A stunning powerful post!

I am late in lifting my huge globe up and getting it on to the blog BUT I shall overcome. It will be there later today.

Peace

~*~Patty Szymkowicz said...

Sending*Peace*Love*Light* in hopes of a brighter today

Sunshine4Life said...

i really long for peace in the midst of conflict and wars.

Peace!

Mar said...

Such a powerful entry! the Gandhi quote is fantastic and so true...
Peace!!

Barbara said...

Super Peace Globe !!
I agree 100% with your title; that is not the way to Peace.
Peace be with you.

Greyscale Territory said...

A wonderful post! It almost hurts! As it should! Perhaps pain may help us to see!

Happiness and peace!

Hootin' Anni said...

Oh my gosh....this is one globe that I never expected...yet it is definitely a 'reflection' of what it's all about! You did good!!! Love it. And love the quote used.

Come on over, and read my impressions of peace if you can find time today.

Robin said...

An incredibly powerful post. No one can understand the horrors of war better than someone who has lived through it.

My 7 year old son and I were talking about Israel's compulsory army service yesterday, about how it forces people put themselves in harm's way. 7 year olds understand that violence is not the answer. If they can, why can't the adults?

What if by the time my son reached 18 there were no more draft, no more army, no more war. What if...

Cravey said...

Beautiful.

jc

kenju said...

A powerful post, Mojo, and a fitting tribute to your ancestors. My wish is that no one anywhere would have to ever pick up a gun for anything!

Michelle said...

Amen

Peace Day wishes to you.

maryt/theteach said...

Mojo, this is very effective post for our Blogblast for Peace. I love the Gandhi quote. My father never spoke about the war, WWII, either. Soldiers are greatly effected by war and violence whether they know it or not. Peace to you and all you love!

Hootin' Anni said...

To answer your question....by what I meant about 'being unexpected'...was the fact that you had the globe graphic reflecting in sunglasses instead of the ones we were given to choose from....you went a step further in making your graphic...and believe me, it's profound.

Ivanhoe said...

Awesome globe, Mojo! Peace & love to you :o)

Kay said...

What a wonderful post!

You make such a great and important point... thank you so much for this.

jennifer said...

Your Peace Globe was so very powerful. Excellent post for peace.

Julie said...

Very good Mojo.....you gave me a memory of my daddy....he was a WWII vet. He never shared how he got his Silver Stars...his Bronze Stars....his Purple Heart..nothing about his achievements.

Nada...zilch.

Until he was stricken with Alzheimer's. They he wouldn't stop. I was blessed for that time with him.

I wanted him to gather his ashes that were sprinkled on the highest point of our property and come back for this past week so badly. I would have loved to hear his thoughts on this election.

Great post...very thought provoking...thanks.

May the spirit of peace take over.

ciara said...

nice post, mojo & the peace globe really enforces the message you put up with it. here's wishing peace to you my friend! :)


btw-great hnt keeping w the peace theme.

Raven said...

Eloquent and beautiful. Amen to your last words. Grant us peace.

Travis said...

This is an excellent post. Thank you for your service, and the service and sacrifices of your family.

Peace.

Hahn at Home said...

As a vet who knows how tenuous peace can be, I thank you for your service. And, for your grandfather's service. Peace.

Daryl said...

Powerful and peaceful .. a perfect combo,Mojo

:-Daryl

Lil Bit said...

What a beauuuuutiful post, Mojo.
I'm a bit in awe.

Peace.
-V--
(that's my fingers doing the 'peace' sign, btw. lol)

Shannon H. said...

Great post! Peace to you and all you love.

bobbie said...

A very clever post for Blog Blast and a great post

Peace to you.

Mimi Lenox said...

What a lovely tribute. Of course, your peace globe is outstanding and very effective as well. I've never seen one quite like it.
I could see those faces and hear those untold stories through your words today - even though many were unspoken we all know what they must have been and the hell they surely saw. Thank you for honoring us with this post today. I know how personal it is to you.

Your family would be proud to know that you honor them this way.
Thank you for your service to our country. May you have a peaceful day. Thanks for being you.

Awesome post.

Shinade said...

Oh my you are a veteran. Now I have tears.

My son-in-law is in the guard after 12 years full Army.

He just did a tour in Iraq and is headed for Afghanistan.

Your globe is powerful and without a shadow of a doubt the very best I have ever seen.

I do not know your story. But, I do thank you and honor you so much for your service to our country!!

God Bless and I pray may he bless us all with peace!!

Maureen Hayes said...

As a Catholic the words Dona Nobis Pacem have a special meaning as they are part of every single Mass. Peace is something we all need to work for everyday, in our own lives as well as in the world.

I thank you and the members of your family who served our great country and I join you in hoping that no one has to pick up a gun again, but mindful also of our troops who are in harm's way as I write this and praying for their safety and our concern and respect for them as well.

Thank you for a wonderful post (and don't ever say it is about the pictures again - you can WRITE!!)

Maureen

Lee said...

This is a powerful and moving post...and a wonderful tribute to your grandfather. He was a very special man indeed, who understood and answered the call to duty, but also understood what the need for his service was. This is an excellent post, and I thank you for sharing your memories.

That is also one of the most beautiful Peace Globes I have seen.

Ralph said...

This is quite a post, one that makes us think of fighting and sacrifice. Yours is a military family, and we oe much to that for our freedoms. Yet, as we live in freedom, we do not want to think about the cost borne by our military members. The fact that he sever fired a bullet again...the sacrifice he lived with.

We Americans are thankful for all your service. Alas, the price for peace is high. We can only pray for peace and not more sacrifice...

Paz said...

Peace!

Paz

Doctor Err said...

just really excellent, man.
really.
*my dad has told me exactly one story from Viet Nam. and it totally made me understand why there is only one story. how anybody gets out of that even functioning is amazing to me.

having my cake said...

I loved this.

Passion said...

A Perfect Peace Globe.

lisaschaos said...

Great photo to start your post! And wonderful post!

Gord H. said...

very thoughtful words, mojo.

i tread lightly over stories about fathers and grandfathers because to dig deeper leaves me weak.

my father had many stories, told me none, but left me tape recordings of his experiences in Halifax and Scotland (training), Cyprus and Italy.

I listened (closely) to one of the seven cassettes 10 years ago and realized I wasn't ready for the rest. They sit in a shoebox under my desk.

Time is approaching...

Gord

Julia Smith said...

Wow - what a stellar peace globe. I'm in awe. I was born on Remembrance Day in an army hospital, delivered by a captain. Tears come to my eyes whenever I see or hear about a tomb for the unknown soldier. My admiration and respect for soldiers everywhere is deep and lasting. Those who serve do the hard work for society - the grim work, the soul-shriveling work. And no one values, cherishes and honors peace as the soldier who has seen things he or she wants to forget.

Julia Smith said...

I was wondering if I could post your peace globe on my blog this week as part of my Thsday Thirteen? My email:
julia.smith2@gmail.com

Annelisa said...

I don't know if you ever had that photo up on this post, but never mind, I could imagine it anyway.
It would be lovely if the need for soldiers was no longer there, and we can only continue to wish for it!

[your peace post will soon be linked into the patchwork peace quilt on my blog 'Peace Bloggers Unite' ]