John Wesley Allen Jr. was one of those fortunate individuals who had everything going for him, including huge baseball talent. He was such an accomplished pitcher that he was invited to the Boston Red Sox spring training camp. Instead, he joined the army during the First World War and was soon sent overseas. As he explained his experience to his mother and father in a letter from the hospital, he wrote, “On the 16th of June our battery was being shelled heavily with 12″ shells. Two guns were hit and twenty of our gunners wounded. The remembrance is so horrible that I nearly lose my head on the thought of it. The major soon gave orders to leave the guns. Four of the boys rushed to a dugout about 50 feet distant, where we found five other machine gun fellows. We were there about ten minutes when a 4.7 [shell] came along and buried the lot of us. I was the only one that survived, the other eight being killed. I just came to as they were shovelling me out of the mud.” He went on “I was wounded quite badly, having two wounds in head, three in chest, three in left arm, one in right arm, four in left leg, two in right leg, shot through left ear, end of toe shot off, one finger broken, two bones in left foot broken, small pieces (shrapnel) in face, my right arm, leg and side paralysed, and I was stone deaf, so I surely had my share.”
The remaining 23 years of his life were filled with pain and the discomfort of knowing he could never achieve the greatness life had in store for him. Yet, his attitude toward his role in the two-part World War was always positive because he knew that he and the millions of dead and wounded were there in a defensive action in the cause of freedom. M.H. Braden once wrote, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. It has, is and will be always so. It is the collective results of our individual efforts which determine whether or not we let freedom ring. As individuals, we may choose to abdicate our God-given right to choose and to doubt. However, if we are to guarantee the next and succeeding generations of our brethren in this and other Israel nations the same freedom of choice which previous generations have guaranteed us, then, we, as individuals, must be willing to make the same sacrifice to defend the freedom inherent in this God-given right.”
So, each year on November 11th, Armistice Day, we celebrate freedom and remember the sacrifices of our former heroes from those two wars. Most have gone to their graves now but they still have our gratitude. We may have had our losses in the two-pronged war but we were victorious in the end because we did what we had to do for defensive reasons and were blessed to be under the protection of the Lord God Almighty. I like the way Winston Churchill summed it up for all the Israel nations when he said, “I have a feeling sometimes that some Guiding Hand has interfered, I have a feeling that we have a Guardian because we have a great Cause, and we shall have that Guardian so long as we serve that Cause faithfully. And what a Cause it is!”
We have had many wars since, the main ones being Korea, Viet Nam, the two Iraq’s and Afghanistan. We limped out of Korea with the job only half done, lost in Viet Nam, have really nothing to show for Iraq and Afghanistan. We helped liberate (?) Libya and looked what happened there. Why the difference? Is it because we have entered wars under the auspicious of the United Nations in defiance of God’s admonition not to enter into agreements with non-Israelite nations? Is it because we have adopted an offensive role as opposed to defensive ones? Or, is it because we have lost the blessing of God’s protection because we have abandoned Him, like not even permitting the name of Jesus Christ to be mentioned by military? Or, no longer serving the great cause faithfully? Perhaps, some other related reason?
Yet, whatever our shortcomings, on November 11th, we equally honour our military forces who represent our nations in all battles, particularly those who have fallen or been maimed. Think of only the last Iraqi conflict, and Afghanistan, nearly 8,000 young men and women paid the ultimate price and some sixty-thousand came home wounded. How many of these latter will never be able to return to a normal life is not known but we can only hope that God soothes them with His comforting Hand. As to the 8,000, the affect on their families is a sad thought, but sadder still is the thought that most will never bring forth children and children’s children to keep their flames alive.
There is another war on the horizon and it has the potential to be the last great battle, encompassing all of the world’s great powers. Howard Rand summed it up best when he wrote, “Everyone who has placed his trust in all that the Lord has declared can say with the prophet: “For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall” (Isa. 25: 4). Smith and Goodspeed translate the last sentence: “When the breath of the ruthless is like a storm in winter.””
Rand went on to say, “This is a time in human history that tests the quality of the faith of those who profess to believe in the ultimate triumph of the Divine purpose. A ruthless nation is preparing for war of such magnitude and destructiveness that, except for Divine intervention, total disaster will engulf all peoples. Shelter from the fiery blast of sudden nuclear attack is imperative, yet men of science can give no guarantee of safety from its dire effects.”
I don’t think there is a better time to read, believe and repeat often, Psalm 91:1, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” In these coming trying times, I know this is where I want to dwell.