Friday, May 27, 2022

Fullbore Friday


I am, generally, not all that taken in by large memorials to the fallen. Perhaps it is just me, but I find them cold, a bit off-putting, and many - but not all by any measure - seem to be more about something else than the memory of fathers, mothers, daughter, sons, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, and friends who answered the call of their nation and never came back.

Like the little neighborhood memorial back when I lived in Norfolk I've written about before, I find the smaller ones speak to me more - they have an intangible quality to them.

For this Memorial Day weekend I'm reaching out of the USA and in to a lost world that is still remembered.

Well off the beaten path is a small Moravian village in the southeast of the Czech Republic near the border with Slovakia called Louka. She has a population of 900 today, probably not that different than what it was a little over a century ago when she was simply another village in the vast Austro-Hungarian Empire. 

When the Habsburg Emperor called, her citizens answered. Four years later, their Emperor was dead, their empire was dissolved, and 20 of her young men didn't come home. 

In 2020, Norfolk, VA had a population of 244,300 in the city proper. The Hampton Roads area (Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Virginia Beach, etc) will bring you to about 1.7 million souls.

If you upscale little Louka's sacrifice by population, that would be 5,429 dead in Norfolk, 37,778 for the Tidewater, and for the USA ~7,400,000 killed.

In the end, for what?

When nations go to war, their people will respond. They usually don't know why, they just know duty. They didn't make the decisions, they just fulfilled their obligations. 

Before a nation's leaders head in to war, they should know what the implications are. Did they do all they could to avoid the war? Did they do all they could in the years of peace to ensure that if war comes, their people have the leadership and tools needed to win?

War sometimes is unavoidable. Sometimes it is the best option. For many nations, it is the only option.

When we have a weekend to think about those who have fallen in our nation's wars, we should take a moment to remember that - even for our nation's enemies (as the Austro-Hungarian Empire was to us in WWI) - their families, villages, and towns are not that different than ours when the call comes.

War, sacrifice, death, and loss have a lasting impact on everything they touch. Even generations past living memory in wars for causes forgotten and empires dissolved, the grief remains. The flowers still are brought. The candles are still lit.

The charter to the living is to think what is worth the cost to give rise to the next village's memorial.

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