Much of the world commemorates Armistice Day, or as it has come to be known in the United States, Veterans Day. It is fitting to offer thanks for those who have gone to war to defend our freedoms, especially those who sacrificed their lives in that cause.
C.S. Lewis was a veteran of the “war to end all wars.” He was recuperating from severe battle wounds in an army hospital when WWI came to its conclusion. Just a few days after the Armistice, he wrote to his father:
As to the great news which is uppermost in our minds, I can only echo what you have already said. The man who can give way to mafficking [celebrating with boisterous public demonstrations] at such a time is more than indecent—he is mad. I remember five of us at Keble, and I am the only survivor: I think of Mr. Sutton, a widower with five sons, all of whom have gone. One cannot help wondering why.
Lewis knew what all veterans of war have learned. War is a terrible thing. It is something to be avoided whenever possible . . . but there are some things even worse than war. And in those circumstances, when war becomes the necessary lesser evil, it is never something to be celebrated. Innocents die in war. Innocence dies in war.
Yes, it is certainly good to express our appreciation to the veterans who have counted the cost and served in uniform. But we should do so with sober, deep and quiet gratitude.