“It would have happened anyway” – replied my logical and yes – correct husband.
Tom and I were in the middle of a several hour visit to the National World War I Museum and Memorial located just one hour from our home in Kansas City, MO. We had decided to enjoy a 24 hour trip to The City – as us country folks refer to it. We enjoyed not only this museum but also the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and some really fantastic Kansas City BBQ. A day of culture for sure and a reminder that I wished I’d paid more attention in High School History and College Art Appreciation classes.
The World War War I memorial is filled with detailed written accounts, photographs and paraphenalia telling the story of the start, middle and end of this global war, also know as the “Great War” or the War to End all Wars . It was one of the largest wars in history and also one of the deadliest.
Together Tom and I enjoy every corner of a museum. He reads every word on every plaque. I look at every picture of the people. While he reads the facts – I imagine the stories of each person upon whom I gaze. It is a really great strategy – each making the most of the cost of admission.
Despite my fascination with the pictures and not as much with the written words – I was stopped in my tracks with one small sentence regarding the event that lead to the beginning of this battle responsible for 7 million civilian deaths. I kept wondering – How does something like this get started?
Maybe you’re familiar with the act that broke the proverbial camels back that lead one country to declare to another… “ENOUGH.” If you’re not – here it is. On June 28, 1914 – Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire is assassinated by Bosnian Serb Nationalist Gavrilo Princip. The Austrian Government suspects Serbian influence . Serbia denies an ultimatum for Austria to enter the country to investigate the assassination on July 25. On July 28, just one month after the assassination, Austria declares war on Serbia and promptly bombs their capital. This date also marks the start of WWI.
The sentence that caught my eye was a reference (and now after doing a little research – I have learned is a theory) – was a suggestion that the assassination was NOT supposed to happen. The planned killing that was months in the making was supposed to be stopped. The word plate at the WWI Museum declared that the “assassins did not get the memo that the were to cease the killing.”
They didn’t get the memo.
What? World War I was started because someone …. Missed a memo?. Millions of lives sacrificed because someone didn’t open their email, sent the message to VM, disregarded a text??
They didn’t take the time to stop and listen??
Now this is a complete over simplification of what really happened. In my brief time of research – it has become clear, as Tom reminded me – the assassination would have happened anyway. The killing of Ferdinand and his wife was not the result of a random crazed person that woke up one day with a heart set on evil. It was a well thought out, carefully crafted act. If it didn’t happen that day it most likely would have happened on another. Tensions were high and you get the feeling that someone was just waiting,
Just. waiting .
for a reason to fight.
As Tom and I continued to enjoy our excursion I just kept thinking about, the missed memo. The lack of communication during this season of turmoil and the ones that happen in my everyday life that lead to doubt, bitterness and conflict.
I believe God works in themes in my life. When I start to see a pattern of events in my day to day I pay attention. This trip to the WWI museum was the first of 4 encounters with this epic time in our worlds history in the last 4 months of my life. In the time since our trip I have read a fiction book set during the time of WWI from the perspective of a Canadian family. I have watched a movie, ” The Imitation Game” ,describing the undercover lives of those hired to intercept and decode messages during WWII which ultimately helped to end that war. It is referenced that this same activity also happened…
And finally last week my daughter attended Girls State. This week of gathering girls from around the state of Missouri to help them understand and experience good citizenship and the ins and outs of our US Government is lead by the Women’s Auxillary of the American Legion. This organization represented the wives and women that stayed home while their husbands, fathers and brothers went to fight in …
I didn’t set out with the goal to familiarize myself with this War when I set my goals for 2019. Each of these experiences were not planned but unfolded as I’ve walked through this time in my life.
And I’m paying attention.
Im paying attention to the heightened emotions in our current culture that remind me of the tensions I read about before WWI.
Im paying attention today to the lines drawn between people groups that appear to be battle lines defending territory rather than starting lines for conversation between people of differing world views.
I’m paying attention to my own heart.
The one that is offended when a friend or family member hasn’t responded to a text or fb post in a timely manner or in the way I would hope they would .
The heart that jumps to conclusions when I hear one side or part of a story. The heart that wants to jump to defend and declare truth before I’ve heard all of the sides.
The heart that forgets the wise advice of my father when assessing a situation. This man that spent a good portion of his career coaching organizations dealing with intense conflict, that in all situations there is “Your side”, “My side”, and somewhere in the middle is the truth.
I amaze myself with the ability to allow myself to go from peace to pissed off faster then a sports car goes from zero to 60.
As I am continually faced with the stories of the lives impacted by this incredibly tragic time in history I am pulled by an urgent sense of responsibility to the people with whom I live and work and recreate. To the generations put in my care and counsel, those whom I was given responsibility to mentor to impact our world in their own God given, God lead way.
When I picked this date for my stop at our virtual fire blog I imagined my shared thoughts would be fueled by the emotion of a mother just 23 days away from her first borns wedding date. It was weddings that I believed would be on my mind.. not warfare. When I awoke at 4:00 a.m. on my writing day I realized it would include both.
As I watch my daughter and her fiance prepare for their lives together I think of a million things I hope she knows. In some way I want to deposit the wisdom of my almost 50 years into her almost 22 year old heart. I want to save her from the pain of my poor choices and remove the challenges that I know will ultimately help form her into the woman God has planned for her to be. But since that is impossible.. I will leave her with this, and you and me.
Don’t miss the memos.
Don’t miss the signs around you that point to a need for connection and communication. Don’t miss the opportunities to express appreciation and gratitude. Don’t miss the moments to stay silent when the words will only add fuel to a fire. Don’t miss the moments to speak when despite the discomfort of speaking truth it will, in the end, lead to resolution and peace. Don’t miss the moments to laugh and embrace the joy of the simple, beautiful moments. Don’t miss the moments to cry and feel deeply the pain of the one you love. Don’t miss the moments to build a fire, to share stories and to listen. Don’t miss the moments to walk in another’s shoes. Don’t miss the moments to squash hate. Don’t miss the moments to love.
Don’t miss the moments to …. Love.
Pay attention friends… there’s a theme in your lives.. I’m certain of it. And it just may be the wisdom you’ve been praying to hear.
In Flanders Fields
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrea, MD ( 1872-1918) Canadian Army
In Flanders feilds the poppies blow – Between the crosses , row on row.
That mark our place; and in the sky; The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce hear among the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short Days ago. We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie. In Flanders Filed.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw.
The torch;be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die.
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders field.