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Have you ever considered the perspective of a soldier who is embroiled in battle? One rainy day when I was in 5th grade, I snuck into my parents’ room to rummage through their closet and look for treasure. After a few minutes, I discovered a beautiful blue box. Inside was a bronze medal mounted to a purple ribbon. In wonderment, I was considering what it might be when my little brothers broke in and ended my quest.

That night, after dinner, my mother gently asked me what I had been looking for in her closet. She understood that boredom had driven me to a life of crime. I asked her about the blue box and she related to me how my Uncle Tommy had been killed in the Battle of Okinawa during WWII and had posthumously been awarded the Purple Heart. Since I had not known Thomas, and did not understand war or suffering, life went on.

No one actually knows when the first guns were used in battle, but during the 17th Century, the Flintlock musket proved to be more effective than a sword and warfare changed forever. By the time of the American War Between the States, projectile technology had developed to the point of producing carnage on a grand scale. The results were 610,000 casualties over a period of 5 years, effecting one of every 140 soldiers who enlisted.

During the 83-day battle in which my uncle died, there were a total of 180,000 casualties on both sides. Through reading “The Pacific” and seeing the film “Hacksaw Ridge,” I now understanding that words cannot describe the living hell that my uncle endured. Before his own death, he witnessed the death, dismemberment and burning of friends in arms that he had come to love. It is told that a seasoned Captain told a novice private that he would not be afraid in battle unless he imagined that he might survive. Only those who have faced death and the loss of the men and women at their side have the perspective to truly understand what motivates courage in the throes of battle.

In the Sept. 7 edition of the Loudoun Times-Mirror, a distinguished, battle-tested Marine officer gave his perspective on the perspective of those who fought in the Civil War, specifically a Confederate soldier. Is it possible that his candid and unvarnished response was from the perspective of a soldier, not a politician?  Did he reimagine battle situations in which his concerns were more about his comrades than for the issues for which our country had gone to war? Is it possible that he might have been right about the mindset of some confederate infantrymen who endured the horrors of war even though they did not own slaves?

Many of my dearest friends took umbrage at Sen. Dick Black’s statements, and I understand their perspective. But in the politically charged political atmosphere in Northern Virginia, should we all not find grace in our hearts to consider that his response was just a matter of his perspective?

Fred Snowden

Loudoun County

Comments


The world is a better place because of Dick Black. There are many the same cannot be said of like Minchew, McAuliffe and Meyers.

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