Rows filled with hundreds of powerful war horses snorting, scratching the ground with their hooves, jerking their heads forcefully up and down while being sat upon by stoic men in uniform were only one of the many evidences of the impending battle. In the distance, seemingly countless cannons roared upon their fuses being kindled by artillerymen, their shells filled with brutal messages of human carnage. The cries of men screaming in pain were a further intensification of the ear shattering din that was the battlefield before these seemingly unruffled men on horseback.
Only the officers commanding the center and wings and the commander and his adjutant’s horses moved. Their horses were pacing slowly back and forth at the front of the cavalrymen. The lead horse was mounted by a sharp-eyed General and followed by a younger adjutant with eyes switching between the battle in front and the General he was following, awaiting orders. Each time the thoroughbreds made the turn back, they had to be reigned in due to their training to run to the sounds of battle.
Suddenly, in the distance, a rider could be seen galloping in their direction. The General focused all his attention on the rider. This signaled to everyone that the rider was a bearer of news. As he came to a dust stirring stop in front of the General, the two men could be seen in a somber conversation that lasted only two, maybe three, minutes. The General had received his orders for the charge.
The General turned to his adjutant and issued orders which the adjutant, in turn and at a gallop, rode to each division officer and issued those same orders to each one. The time was at hand. The men seemed to sit even taller in their saddles and grip the reigns tighter in anticipation of the charge.
Within seconds of the adjutant returning to the General, he nodded to the adjutant, who then gave a signal to the other officers to have their buglers sound the charge.
Having been in battle, I know, if one could have glimpsed closely at the cavalrymen’s faces, he would have seen their lips almost imperceptibly moving with a silent whisper. The men were saying prayers to God to give them his divine protection. They would be praying to see loved ones again. They would be praying for the courage to make the charge. Though their faces were stoic, within them was fear, stress, and, oh, so many other heightened emotions that all men go through before and during battle with its messengers of death all around.
When a man kills in battle, it has great consequence for the future. You might think, because it is sanctioned by the powers that be within their ruling governments and by the citizens of that country, that killing was no big deal, but it is a profanity to one’s soul, to one’s holy spirit, the taking of another man’s life.
The taking of another human beings life in anger or hate is an assault on everything our Lord, Jesus Christ, did for us on that cross…it deeply affects any person having experienced it. The memories of ending a person's life creeps into a man’s dreams, deforming them and making sleep something to fear. Then, it invades his personal life till that life can become a life perceived as not worth continuing. The nightmare he sees at night begins to transform his waking life into that same nightmare.
There is nothing glorious about war and its battles, except to writers, poets, historians, and rulers. I loved the Charge of the Light Brigade, the poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, as a child. It made war look so glorious and exciting. After I served in combat, the poem took on a different light.
As a Christian, one can have the hope and ability to escape the nightmares that invade his mind and permeate his everyday life. Through his faith and with help from his family and other Christians, he can come to realize that our Father loves him unconditionally and, through our savior dying on that cold cross, he is forgiven.
If the man is not a Christian, we need to let him know the inner and outer peace that comes from faith in him that loves us so dearly that he gave his only son to be sacrificed for our sins. He can know that, with his faith, he can put on his new self and begin a new life forgiven of all past sins. He can begin to serve others put down with this terrible guilt, and, in serving, begin his healing and with time the nightmares will fade.
How wondrous are the ways of our Father that he takes such tragedy and turns it into such love and service to others in need.
War and their battles, with their killing, maiming, and destruction, are not in any way glorious, but, with Christ as our guide, we can begin to find other solutions to mankind’s problems, which come, for the most part, from peoples greed and need to find someone or group of peoples to feel superior to and blame their problems on. We must own our problems as our creation and love and aid others with their problems.
When the times are at their darkest and hope has escaped, let us turn to our one true light, the light of our Father’s love that can never be extinguished and help others find that light through faith in our Father.
Bless our soldiers and their families, and may we be able to offer the healing power of the unconditional love and forgiveness of our Lord Jesus in such a way as they will be accepting of it, thus helping to relieve the burden of their heavy cross.