The Red Harvest: A Cry for Peace

The Red Harvest: A Cry for Peace

The Red Harvest: A Cry for Peace

The Red Harvest: A Cry for Peace

Excerpt

One day I looked out over the countryside from the height at Verdun. As far as eye could see, devastation! Only a few stumps along the river Meuse where was once a forest. Only a sea of mud where once were green fields and fertile farms. Only a few white heaps of powder where once were villages. Barbed wire with barbs as big as penknives, and trenches with lips as scarlet as the poppies that bloomed once in pleasant, peaceful dooryards. And there I made a vow. Another day at Château Thierry they showed me a splotch on a white wall, where they said a little child had been killed. And there I made a vow. Another time I stood in what used to be the city of Soissons, saw the one wall of the cathedral left standing, and looked out across the fields over which the fury of battle had passed but a few days before, where the blood had not yet dried on the sod, where the holocaust had left behind its shattered chaos. And there I made a vow. I marched with my fellow soldiers many a time behind a funeral drum that told of another comrade to be laid below the ground. And I renewed my vow. One day we stood to honor a young soldier with our regiments drawn up in a great hollow square while the generals pinned upon his breast the reward of war, the cross, symbol of salvation. And then a few hours later I learned the truth; the hero of the day had been badly gassed and the doctors gave him just one month to live. And so again I made my vow. At Montfaucon they told us how our own barrage had fallen short and killed hundreds of our buddies with our own shells. And once more I made a vow. On the Red Cross hospital ship, Mercy, I saw more of what war had done to men: men with eyes gone, limbs gone, minds gone. And there my vow renewed itself. And then at last I saw my brother come home, after fourteen months in the trenches, a shell-shocked, shattered husk of the brave and gay young soldier who had enlisted and marched away. And so my vow was sealed.

And that vow was not to kill Germans. For we who were in the thick of the thing called war knew them as our brothers and not as our foes. My vow was to kill this ugly thing called war which had transformed the world into a theater of horrors. I

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