From The Project Gutenberg EBook of Sergeant York And His People, by Sam Cowan
During World War I, Alvin York was a conscientious objector, based on his strongly held religious beliefs. Drafted into the United States Army, he tried four times to be classified as a conscientious objector, but failed each time. Finally, he talked to Major George Buxton, a devout Christian who recognized Mr. York’s sincerity. He asked Mr. York if he believed the Bible, and Mr. York replied, “Every sentence, every word.” Major Buxton then quoted Luke 22.36: “He that hath no sword, let him sell his cloak and buy one.” He also reminded Mr. York about what Jesus had done when he found money lenders in the temple. Finally, he asked what Jesus would do when friends and families were threatened by the enemy. Mr. York asked for a pass to think things through, and he went home to rural Tennessee on March 21, 1918. Near Pall Mall, Tennessee, he climbed a mountain and stayed there to pray for two days and two nights. Then he went to war overseas. On October 8, 1918, Corporal York and a small group of American soldiers were fired on by German machine gunners. Corporal York used his hunting skills to shoot several German machine gunners. When he and his men were attacked by a German officer and a dozen soldiers who charged them with bayonets, he killed all of them with an automatic pistol, the furthest away one first and the nearest one last. This was the same order he shot wild turkeys at home, since he didn’t want the ones in front to know that the others had been killed. Then he began shooting machine gunners again. After Corporal York had shot approximately twenty of the machine gunners, the remaining Germans gave up and surrendered — except for one soldier who threw a grenade at Corporal York. The soldier missed, and Corporal York shot him. On the way back to the Allied lines, Corporal York and his men captured more and more Germans, ending up with a total of 132 soldiers, including four officers. Once everyone was safely in camp, an Allied officer told him, “Well, York, I hear you have captured the whole damned German army.” For his efforts, Corporal York was promoted to Sergeant and awarded the Medal of Honor.
During World War II, Malka Csizmadia helped many Jews in Hungary by taking their letters out from behind a barbed wire-enclosed space and mailing them. She also brought them such items as newspapers, paper, and envelopes. Her entire family became involved in bribing the guard, so that Jews could go through a hole under the fence and come to her house to listen to the radio. (As long as the Jews returned that night, it was OK with the bribed guard.) Some people figured out what she was doing, and once a German even told the four-and-a-half-foot-tall Malka, “You’re small in size, but not up here [pointing to his head]. War is terrible. I haven’t seen my children in five years. You should keep helping people.”
When the United States was fighting in the Vietnam War, controversial filmmaker John Waters was drafted. He didn’t want to go to war, and he was relieved when he saw the forms he had to fill out, knowing then that the Army would never be interested in having him serve as a soldier. On the forms, he checked the boxes for such things as “drug addict,” “alcoholic,” “bed wetter,” and “homosexual,” and the shocked head Army sergeant asked him, “Is this all true?” Mr. Waters said it was. Perhaps it is needless to say this, but Mr. Waters did not go to Vietnam.
Country comedian Jerry Clower has a brother named Sonny who is a retired Navy war hero. Once, Sonny complained about hearing “Rambo! Rambo!” all the time from his grandson. He asked who Rambo was, and in answer to the question, he and his grandson went to a movie starring Sylvester Stallone as Rambo. Jerry asked his brother what he thought about Rambo, and Sonny replied, “I was in a pretty tough outfit when I fought a war. If Rambo had a been in my unit in the Navy, he’d a been a cook.”
General George McClellan was removed as head of the Union Army by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War because of a lack of aggressiveness. Once, President Lincoln complained of General McClellan’s inactivity, then said, “If McClellan doesn’t want to use the army for a while, I’d like to borrow it from him for a while and see if I can’t do something or other with it.”
In ancient Greece, the Olympic Games were very important, and war was halted so that the Olympic Games could be held. When Baron Pierre de Coubertin revived the Olympic Games in the late 19th century, he hoped that they would help stop war, but that has not been the case. Instead, World War II prevented the Olympic Games from being held in 1940 and 1944.
“When it was learned months after the fact that thousands of Panamanian civilians were killed or injured when we invaded their country in order to capture and punish Mañuel Noriega, some of our national leaders were embarrassed and sorry. Others continued to think our frustration and rage toward Noriega justified those deaths.” — Tom Mullen.
During World War II, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Winston Churchill had a meeting with God, who told them that whoever emptied the Atlantic Ocean first would win the war. Both Hitler and Stalin said that such a task was impossible, but Churchill got a bucket and filled it up, saying, “It may take a long, long time, but we are going to win this war.”
While performing on Broadway in My Fair Lady, British actor Rex Harrison narrowly missed being killed by a huge and heavy piece of scenery that fell to the floor; however, Mr. Harrison ignored the near disaster and continued acting and singing. A stagehand watched Mr. Harrison, then said, “Now I know why the British won the war.”
In 1947, just before Jackie Robinson broke the color line in professional baseball, baseball commissioner “Happy” Chandler was asked whether Mr. Robinson could make it in baseball. Mr. Chandler replied, “If a black boy can make it on Okinawa and Guadalcanal [scenes of fierce fighting in World War II], hell, he can make it in baseball.”
A very young Catholic girl was shown around a Protestant Church in which a service flag was hung. She asked what the flag was, and she was informed that the flag was hung in honor of those who died in the service. She asked, “The 9:30 a.m. service or the 11 a.m. service?”
Back in the administration of George Bush, Sr., Defense Secretary Dick Cheney once flaunted a Bart Simpson doll dressed in camouflage. Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, responded by saying, “It’s always sad when a 10-year-old gets drawn into war.”
“They got guns. We got guns. All God’s children got guns.” — The Marx Brothers in Duck Soup.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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