Elkana Vizel was an Israeli soldier who died in Gaza this week. He was 35 and a father of four. He wrote this letter to his family before going into battle.
If you are reading these words, something probably happened to me. First of all, if I am taken prisoner by Hamas I demand that you do not make any deal to free me from any terrorist. Our crushing victory is more important than anything else, so please, just keep on working with all your might so our victory will be as crushing as possible.
Maybe I will have fallen in battle. When a soldier falls in battle it’s sad. But I ask of you, be happy. Don’t be sad when you part from me. Sing a lot, hold each other’s hands, and support each other. We have so much to be happy about and proud of. We are the generation of redemption! We are writing the most significant moments in the history of our nation and the entire world. So please be optimistic. Continue choosing life constantly. Lives of love, hope, purity, and optimism. Look at those dear to you in the white of their eyes and remind them that everything they go through in life is worth it and they have a lot to live for.
Live! Don’t stop the power of life for a moment! During Operation Protective Edge I was injured. I had the option to stay behind, but I don’t regret for a moment that I returned to combat. On the contrary, that was the best decision I ever made.
Simply beautiful. My uncle had the same understanding of being a part of something bigger and more significant than oneself. Such young men.
This is extremely touching – a friend of mine has posted a 1966 letter he received from a young man serving in Vietnam. The story behind the letter and the letter itself are here. Really worth a look.
I’ve posted about this man before. He and his team do the work of the angels. Give, if you can.
A memorial for the Canadian soldiers who died in Afghanistan was unveiled in private – even families of the dead soldiers were not invited — and is not open to the public. This is madness. Christie Blatchford has her say, though I think my late brother said it best when he called his blog “Life in a Silly Little Country.”
Beautiful poem written by Roland Leighton for Vera Brittain. It was April 1915 and he was serving in France. He was killed by a sniper eight months later. (I dearly wish I had some of my uncle’s poems to his fiancee, Christine, but any letters she received, of course, stayed with her. If she kept them, perhaps her children have them – I have a hope one of her kids will see my other site and contact me, but it is possible she may never have told them about Norman.)
Violets from Plug Street Wood,
Sweet, I send you oversea.
(It is strange they should be blue,
Blue, when his soaked blood was red,
For they grew around his head:
It is strange they should be blue.)
Think what they have meant to me –
Life and hope and Love and You
(and you did not see them grow
Where his mangled body lay
Hiding horrors from the day;
Sweetest, it was better so.)
Violets from oversea,
To your dear, far, forgetting land
These I send in memory
Knowing you will understand.
So many truly moving ceremonies this morning, in so many countries. I thought the service at the Arc de Triomphe was particularly lovely. I am from the generation that read The Guns of August in school, and while it is an excellent book, I think a much better book for anyone who wants to understand (in as much as one can) the origins of World War I is The Sleepwalkers.
I think this article is worth a read, though it is painful. It is about animals who die in war. I know my uncle wrote frequently about animals during his training period in the UK, and also fondly about the dogs “adopted” by his regiment. Please do continue to visit this website, where I am posting my uncle’s letters home from World War II (as well as his poems and family photographs and documents).
I posted earlier about the quakes and such going on here, and it occurred to me that I really need to put things in perspective. I was talking to a couple of classmates here in Italy who are from the Ukraine, and they basically said they felt safer taking their chances with quakes than going back home to deal with war. And then I remembered my uncle’s letter about nearly being killed in a buzz-bomb attack (two months before he was killed by a German shell). Please read that letter and spare a thought for those who serve and those who served. Remember all those young men and women.
I love In Flanders Fields, but this Robert Laurence Binyon poem, written in 1914, gets to me just a bit more. I am not sure why, but the first time I visited Bretteville-sur-Laize Cemetery, the French cab driver who took my there said, of my uncle, “at least he won’t ever grow old.”
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
Harry Truman announces the surrender of Japan.