From the editor: June 6, 2014

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Onward, Christian Soldiers

70 years ago today, Normandy bore the marks of one madman intent on bending the wills of its citizens to the Nazi superstate. The swastika waved over the Channel at England and flew over the apple orchards of the French countryside and thousands of square miles and more. But that day all that began to change. Before dawn, then throughout the rest of the day, sea, land, and air were rent by flashes, thunder, flying metal, parachutes, while fresh wounds in the earth and men erupted in sand and soil, blood and guts. Beaches turned red. Trees exploded, cattle perished, men breathed their last.

D-Day was just the first day. The battle for Normandy raged on well into August, and Paris was liberated August 25, 1944. The scarring of Normandy and the shedding of blood was the result of many men and their designs--either for conquest and occupation or for liberation. Planners back in their quonset huts drew up lists of tanks, artillery, shells, rations, and more as they sent a growing stream of materiel to feed the heat of battle.

Some time after the soldiers chased and fled and the guns fell silent, more plans were made, this time to reorder the broken earth and bloodied land. After the wild sowing of bombs and shells, from certain fields in Normandy there rose a crop of white stones ordered as if sown in perfect furrows. These once-living men were made to lay themselves down in tight ranks to blanket the earth with the white rows and their clean grass, as if to reassure the ground underneath that it shall never more be shaken. Hush, sleep, peace at last, peace.

The men under those stones are heroic in this one thing: They paid the price. Not saints, yet they consecrated themselves to the task by being there in the place and time in which their lives were liable to be forfeited for the sake of others.

The exquisite beauty of the headstones of Normandy's military cemeteries together bear witness to a deep awareness in man that warfare lies immovably at the center of the universe: there is warfare in heaven; there is a sword brought by the Son of Man; fire cast on the earth; a battle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces; the battle front between good and evil in each heart. No victory without dying. No gain with sacrifice. Across the centuries, our battlefields should direct our eyes from earth to heaven, even as we respectfully salute the fallen. We hear the call, "Onward, Christian soldiers" to spiritual battle, not earthly. We await the final trumpet, the last command, when Normandy's fallen together shall rise. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess: Greater love hath no Man than this Jesus, the Lion of Judah, who has conquered.

Yours for Christ, Creed & Culture,
—James M. Kushiner


© The Fellowship of St. James. 2014

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