Johny goes to war reluctantly......
|When Billy awoke again, the sun was setting. He looked around and the beds in the ward were sparsely filled. His ankle was quite numb from the ice. The few hours of sleep had refreshed him but with nothing to do, he closed his eyes again.
“Hello, recruit.” Billy opened his eyes and there stood Chaplain Green. “I see you had a bit of misfortune. Marching I presume.”
“Yes, sir. Speed march. I fell while I was taking a drink from my canteen. I passed anyway,” Billy said proudly.
“It happens. I’m just making my duty rounds to visit with anyone who would like to visit. Where are you from ?”
“Just outside Kansas City, sir”
“Your family there ?”
“Yes. I grew up there. My Father is a minister and my brother is in seminary. He has been drafted, too. They are letting him finish this semester, though.”
The Chaplain’s eyes lit up. “ A minister, eh ? That seems like an honorable profession.”
Billy smiled. “Yes, sir. He’s not to fond of me being here nor the war in general.”
“I see. What about you ? Tell me about how you ended up here. Were you contemplating the ministry as well ?”
“Don’t know, sir. I want to be a doctor. I thought heavily about going into missions work. Then the draft board sent me a letter. I wasn’t too fond of the idea of killing and I didn’t like the alternative of refusing to serve. So, they said they had the perfect job opportunity for me. And here I am.”
“Believe it or not, there are a lot of young men just like yourself who come through here. You made the best decision you could under the circumstances. It’s not an easy thing to declare yourself a conscientious objector.”
“Seems like being in the medics isn’t something looked up to around here. No guns, no guts, or something like that.”
“I was in North Africa before I was rotated out. The same men who looked down on the medics….well, who did their life depend on ? Who was the first person to stop them from bleeding to death ? Camp life and War are two different things.”
Billy propped himself up on an elbow. “What about you, sir ? Do you think us killing and fighting a war is the Christian thing to do ?”
The Chaplain ran his hand over his head and paused for a moment. “I think I’m doing what God wants me to do. I’d surely prefer that this thing end but we are faced with a grave danger. The best way for this war to end is for everyone to do their job and do what they know to be right. There is a reason for everything that happens. You know that from your upbringing. Do your job to the best of your ability and leave the rest in His hands.” The Chaplain sat down on the empty bed next to Billy.
“Let me tell you a story. I was assigned to the 18th Infantry Regiment in North AFrica and worked out of their battalion aid station. Although I’m a non combat soldier, it’s hard to differentiate when mortars and stray bullets are flying through the air. A hill had been overrun on our flank and all of the company’s medics were either wounded or dead. A panicked private came running into the aid station and told the surgeon about the situation. We had sent out all of our litter bearers to help evacuate the wounded. So, I guess they were dead or wounded too. I had to make a decision. I could either pray or I could pray and help. Well, I grabbed a stretcher and started praying. Mortars and machine gun fire were everywhere. Not more than a couple hundred yards I came across a wounded man. It was pretty ugly. He had taken some shrapnel in his stomach and was trying to push his intestines back in. He was dying. It was the first time I had sat with someone as they died. He had been a regular at my services. I knelt down next to him and held his hand. He asked me to pray for him and to make sure that his family knew he did his job well and he was thinking of them as he left this world. We prayed. By the time anyone was around to help me get him evacuated he had died. I didn’t want to be there, he didn’t want to die but we both did our jobs…Does that make sense ?”
“I think so, sir.”
“You never know where you are going till the orders are issued. You might end up here or in Europe 100 yards from the Germans. You’re doing the best you can under the circumstances.” Chaplain Green stood up and smiled. “Get a few more winks and take care of that ankle. If you ever need to talk, I’ll be around.”
“Thank you, sir. That makes a lot of sense.”