World War I
In 1941 the film Sergeant York was released. A biopic on the life of America’s greatest hero of WWI, it brought together two American originals: Alvin C. York and the actor Gary Cooper.
York arrived in this world on December 3, 1887, the third of the eleven children of William and Mary York. He was born into rural poverty. Although both of his parents were quite hard-working, the Yorks lived in a two-room log cabin at a subsistence level. None of the York children received more than nine-months education, as their labor was desperately needed to farm the few hard scrabble acres that the Yorks owned and to hunt for food to feed the large family.
A truly remarkable interview conducted in 1982 of the experiences as a Catholic Chaplain of Father William Bonniwell, O.P. during World War I. At the time of the interview Father Bonniwell was 96 and I think his vigor and clarity of recollection and speech are astounding. I have done my best on this blog to tell the stories of some of the Catholic Chaplains who served in the military in our nation’s history, and it is heartwarming to be able to present a video of one of these brave men telling his story.
After the War he had an illustrious career. He was a professor of homiletics at the Dominican House of Studies in River Forest, Illinois. He was head of the Preacher’s Institute in Washington DC. For many years he was on the staff of St. Vincent Ferrer in New York City. He was the author of ”Margaret of Castello,” , a biography of the 14th-century Italian Dominican nun, who is a true patron of unwanted children, as she was born a dwarf, hunchbacked, blind and lame and was ultimately rejected by her parents, and throughout her travails radiated the love of God. He translated from Latin ”The Martyrology of the Sacred Order of Preachers”, and produced the groundbreaking History of the Dominican Liturgy 1215-1945.
In a tribute to common sense, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a Cross raised in 1934 as a tribute to U.S. soldiers who died in World War I may stay at the Mojave National Preserve. The depressing part of this news was that the vote was 5-4. Stevens, who is retiring, voted with the four justices who viewed the Cross as a threat to our constitutional order.
There are some whom denigrate soldiers and policemen and the plan God has for them in Salvation. I disagree completely and there are many examples of saints and popes who have honored the soldier and policeman in defense of justice and peace.
“The great French Lacordaire once said the vocation of a soldier is next in dignity to the priesthood, not only because it commissioned him to defend justice on the field of battle and order on the field of peace, but also because it called him to the spirit and intention of sacrifice.”
Today is Anzac Day. It commemorates the landing of the New Zealand and Australian troops at Gallipoli in World War I. Although the effort to take the Dardanelles was ultimately unsuccessful, the Anzac troops demonstrated great courage and tenacity, and the ordeal the troops underwent in this campaign has a vast meaning to the peoples of New Zealand and Australia.