What Have We Learned?

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What Have We Learned?

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I have a ritual every year on Memorial Day. I pop into my VCR an animated Peanuts special entitled, "What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown"? It's a program that takes the beloved Peanuts characters through a tour of famous European battlegrounds. Their tour includes a visit to Flanders Field from World War I where, according to the poem, "the poppies blow, between the crosses row on row."

The words of this haunting poem continue, "We are the Dead. Short days ago we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, loved and were loved, and now we lie in Flanders fields."

Sadly, mankind did not learn the lesson from this "War to End All Wars." Only 21 years later, the world plunged into another global war. The Peanuts characters move on to the scene of another great battle of that conflict—Normandy, where allied troops stormed the French beaches to begin the liberation of Europe from Nazi control.

As the camera looks over the calm white beaches and rocky cliffs, scenes from the invasion are superimposed. The characters visit the American cemetery where thousands of young soldiers are buried. This plot of land was permanently deeded to America by the French government. As the characters walk among the graves, the words of Dwight Eisenhower, who commanded the allied forces that June morning, serve as a fitting testimony to the action.

Eisenhower had returned to Normandy 20 years after the invasion and recorded a documentary for American television. He said: "Many thousands of men came here to storm these beaches for one purpose only. Not to gain anything. Not to fulfill any ambitions that America had for conquest. But just to preserve freedom, systems of self-government. Many thousands of men have died for ideals such as these. In the 20th century, for the second time, America, along with the rest of the free world, had to come across the ocean to defend those same values.

"But these young boys . . . over whose graves we have been treading . . . contemplating their sacrifices . . . They never knew the great experiences of going through life. I devoutly hope that we never again have to see scenes as these. I pray, think, hope that humanity will have learned more than we learned up to that time. We must find some way to work for peace and . . . gain an eternal peace."

This weekend marks the 60th anniversary of the Normandy landings by Allied troops. Leaders from the United States, France and Britain, and, for the first time, Germany, will gather to commemorate one of the most important events of the 20th century. It is likely to be the last big commemoration of this event. Thousands of World War II veterans, called by some "the greatest generation," die each week. In a few short years their voices will be silenced.

My father landed in the first wave on Omaha Beach as a combat engineer. He survived while many of his buddies died on the beach. One of his friends, from his hometown, was shot in the legs and carried onto the beach by my father. Years later I would hear him say that he did not wish to see any young man have to go through the experience of war as he did. For this veteran, war was a life-altering experience. It was one he would have rather not gone through.

What have we learned? Not enough to bring peace among nations. Wars and conflicts continue to create new graves with the same echoes of unrealized hope.

We continue to look and wait with hope for the time when Jesus Christ will restore a government of peace upon the earth as described by the prophet Isaiah. It is his thoughts found in Isaiah 2:4 Isaiah 2:4And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
American King James Version×
that offer us a different future. Those words state, ". . . Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."

To better understand the hopeful future Jesus Christ and the Bible reveal, request or download your free copy of The Gospel of the Kingdom.