Veterans Day: European, Pacific, Wives and Books

The flag is flying outside, and I just watched some local men in fraternal headgear carry out a memorial service for Veterans living and the dead. Kind of moving to see these older arthritic guys saluting their young counterparts.

For the day, we have pieces touching on aspects of faith in both the Pacific and the European theaters, from WWI and WWII:

First up, Pat McNamara with one of the most entertaining Veteran’s Day pieces I’ve yet read:

In 1916, Father [Francis P] Duffy was appointed Chaplain to the ["Fighting"] 69th New York Regiment (later renumbered the 165th U.S. Infantry), a predominantly Irish unit that saw hard fighting during the Civil War. When Duffy joined the regiment, Harris noted, “You could fill up a company with just O’Briens, O’Connors, O’Connells, O’Neills and O’Reillys.” As the United States entered the First World War, it earned hard-fought battle honors on the Western Front, in places like St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne.

Duffy loved the Irish character of the regiment, particularly its Irish Catholic character. He called the regiment his “parish—an itinerant parish.” But he was no chauvinist, either ethnic or religious. He told the troops, Catholic and non-Catholic:

I come to you in soldiers’ togs, with a message from the Church. I want to be your friend, whatever your religion may be. I know many of you are leaving families behind you and will have many worries. Come to me with them and you will find me ready with a wide word and a merry one.

Read it all; what a film it would make!

Meanwhile Marcia Morrissey relates a personal story from the Leyte Gulf: Told “you’re on your own” in the face of enemy power, some Navy seamen in the Leyte Gulf turned to prayer and found providential aid:

Part of the Japanese’s strategy was to feint a small force to the north of the Philippines and draw Admiral Halsey’s forces into a vulnerable position.

Syl was on a destroyer when the main Japanese force came through the Leyte Gulf, catching the US forces by surprise. When this small token fleet radioed Halsey for help, the response was that they were on their own. These ships knew that they were hopelessly outclassed and that they had to stand and fight. Syl was in the destroyer’s ready room when this information was related.

Happy Veteran’s Day to all of our service men and women, and thank you for your sacrifices; our country has lost faith in much, but never in you.

A family member says he has recently enjoyed reading Ernie Pyle’s War: America’s Eyewitness to World War II and Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10

Also, nice pieces by Karen Spears Zacharias (on “The Veteran’s Wife) and Jazz Shaw (on Saying Thank You)

Frank Weathers: The Lonliness of the Military Historian

Joseph Susanka on the Shadow-warriors within us

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has more book suggestions

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • SteveM

    Re: Father Duffy“I come to you in soldiers’ togs, with a message from the Church…”

    The message from the Church should have been something like: “This War is rancid slaughter that serves no godly purpose. I urge you resist engaging in this profound sin to the fullest extent possible.”

    Surrendering as canon fodder to the voracious maw of history constructed by stupid men is nuts…

    [I think by all measures, the Second World War was considered a "just" war. -admin]

  • Cindy Beairl

    Father Duffy’s quote is from 1916. That would be the !st World War. There was a huge amount of unnecessary slaughter.

    [Crap. You're right, of course. This is what happens when I work too fast. I lose track. Thanks. Sorry, Steve! -admin]