Peace: What was it like?
Something is in the air. While much of the American economy is still in the dumper, the stores that sell survival equipment and survival rations are experiencing record sales. Some Americans sense our influence in world affairs is shrinking. In Gentleman’s Quarterly magazine’s recent listing of the “Twenty-five Least Influential People Alive,” Barack H. Obama ranks 25th.
For those of us of a certain age, today’s feeling of foreboding may be like how it was in England in the happy summer of 1939 – waiting for the other shoe to fall.
A decade ago, America suffered an attack on American soil by radical Islamists, killing over 3,000 of our countrymen, women, and children. We have now been at war in Afghanistan for ten years and for almost that long in Iraq. As a result, it is difficult for some Americans to recall what actual peace was like.
To see and hear what peace was like in those golden summer days prior to the outbreak of World War II; watch a DVD of “Mrs. Miniver” which won six Academy Awards in 1942 and was nominated for six more. In the early part of that movie, one gets a sense of the tranquil peace in the home life of Clement and Kay Miniver, living with their two small children and so proud of their older boy doing well at Oxford.
The screenwriters made Clem Miniver a successful architect, a builder of good things for humankind. But, when this 1942 film appeared, the audience already knows that the Nazi madman is well into the process of the destruction of much of London and the RAF bases in southern England. Creating Clem as an architect was a nice touch.
Unfortunately, German bombs destroy the Miniver home, their church, and much of their village. The Luftwaffe strafes the Miniver’s 1939 Jaguar drop-head coupe killing their daughter-in-law. The survivors, who include Mr. and Mrs. Miniver, the small children, and their RAF pilot son, gather in the ruins of the village church to hear their Vicar say: “I offer these words from the 91st Psalm: ‘…I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God; in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler and from the noisome pestilence...’”. [Psalm 91: 2-3, KJV.]
Then, the Vicar goes on to say: “…This is not only a war of soldiers in uniform. It is the war of the people, of all the people. And it must be fought not only on the battlefield but in the cities and in the villages, in the factories and on the farms, in the home and in the heart of every man, woman and child who loves freedom. Well, we have buried our dead, but we shall not forget them. Instead, they will inspire us with an unbreakable determination to free ourselves, and those who come after us, from the tyranny and terror that threaten to strike us down. This is the people’s war. It is our war…”
In 2011, it seems difficult to believe that the bombs and rockets of Adolf Hitler almost succeeded in destroying Great Britain. Ironically, The British Isles and all the European democracies now face a more insidious peril from the high birth rates of their burgeoning immigrant populations. If present demographic trends continue, by 2050, Christianity will be England’s minority religion and English Common Law will be just a memory.
During this process, it might be well for us to remember the words of George Orwell: “We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us.” Pray for our men and women in uniform.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
©2011. William Hamilton.