Monday, June 8, 2009

Heroes of War

“…The moon shone its silvery glow over a field dotted with torch lights and littered with young men…boys really. Some lay on the ground, some barely stood by themselves, and others leaned on their shields for support. Each guarded crudely-made spears, swords, and bows and arrows. The entire crew appeared worn and battle weary. Every one of them looked as if he were wounded in some way. Some gazed at me expectantly. I didn’t know what to do.
‘You thought your army could kill us,’ Tarik spoke into my ear. He stepped back and said, ‘Behold, the sons of Helaman live. We are strong. We are warriors!’”
Copyright © Kathi Oram Peterson

This is one of my favorite scenes in my book, The Forgotten Warrior. Can you imagine looking down on a battle field littered with wounded soldiers and as you looked closer you realized they were young men…boys really? And, in fact, they were the sons of Helaman! Every time I think of seeing such a sight goose-bumps rise on my skin. Not only because this has to do with a beloved story from the Book of Mormon, but the thought of young men going to war to protect their families, religion, and freedom always makes me teary-eyed.

“Now they never had fought yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives…” Alma 56:47. In a previous blog, I wrote about the courage of the stripling warriors. This particular passage took place before the stripling warriors went to war. I’ve wondered if after actually seeing battle and living through the horrors of hand-to-hand combat would they become bitter or turn against their leaders. I have heard stories about young men who were eager to go to war, but once they lived through it they became bitter. So I couldn’t help but wonder how the stripling warriors would have felt. And then I read this passage in the Book of Mormon: “But behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless they stand fast in the liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day...” Alma 58:40. If anything the sacrifices they made endeared them to their families, religion, and country.

On June 6th we remembered those who were part of the D-Day mission of WWII. Most of the soldiers in that war were men and not boys...and yet to their mothers they were. I think of the brave mothers of the Ammonites who sent their young men to battle against the mighty Lamanite army and I believe their faith was nothing short of miraculous. After watching the video included, I think we have more in common with those mothers than we think we do. Though many died on the beaches of Normandy, those who died and those who pushed on and eventually won the war were heroes and, yes, part of a miracle.

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