President George Washington said, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving the peace."
Ever since the Garden of Eden and the Apple Tree, humankind has been infected with sin. When souls get consumed by sin, evil is apt to run rampant. Evil is alive and on the march; we need to look no further than the Middle East and October 7th to validate our worst fears. At the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaims, “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” But in a fallen world prone to mass-scale violence, how is peace achieved; who are the Peacemakers?
In 1914, war descended upon and consumed an unprepared Europe. Military leaders fought with industrial-age lethality and efficiency using antiquated Napoleonic thinking. Newly added to their toolbox of weapons were machine guns, long-range artillery, airplanes, tanks, and chemical weapons. The result was a rapid mass slaughter of an entire generation of Germans, Frenchmen, Brits, Russians, Slavs, & Turks. In a very short time, much of the European countryside had been reduced to a moonscape – a quagmire of trenches – a hopeless war-weary stalemate gripped the continent.
When President Woodrow Wilson called on Congress in 1917 to declare war against the Central Powers and send American Doughboys “over there” to fight alongside the Allies, he justified it, in part, by stating this had to be “the war to end all wars,” – never again could we, as civilized people, allow such horrific conflict to occur. The magnitude of utter devastation would compel us to resolve international problems without resorting to warfare.
Under General “Blackjack” Pershing, American Doughboys stepped foot onto European battlefields for the very first time in history. Just one year later – 105 years ago this week – the Great War was over on November 11th, now known as Armistice Day. American involvement and sacrifice had made the difference, tipped the balance, and the Allied Powers were victorious. But, what happened?
But what are we to learn from all this; what is the take-away?
By being prepared for war, we do keep the peace. Given our nature and human proclivity to engage in war, George Washington was exactly right: deterrence works – it is the only thing that keeps the peace. In greater numbers than most, West Virginia citizens have routinely stepped forward and volunteered to train as soldiers. With our investment of human capital, the country remains free and safe. We Mountaineers continue to be a key asset in the arsenal of democracy.
This Veterans Day, November 11th, we will once again honor our military veterans, all those living who have raised their right hands and sworn to defend us and our Constitution. They deserve our appreciation and utmost respect; they are the real Peacemakers. We thank God for them.
WV Secretary of State Mac Warner is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and spent 23 years in the United States Army. He retired at the rank of Lt. Colonel. He spent 2011 through 2015 in Afghanistan working with the U.S State Department.