Sunday, May 03, 2015

Sermon today recalls the sacrifices associated with conscription in the past (especially triage and deferments)

Today, a sermon at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC by guest Dr. James Langley (“It was for Me, the Bitter Tree”) conveyed a story about military service that touches on the concerns over sacrifice that I have presented before.
Langley was apparently born around 1924 and tried to enlist in the Navy around 1943.  He was turned down medically, but drafted into the Army anyway shortly thereafter.  That was possible then.  After Basic, he got a special training assignment at MIT, but eventually wound up in a medical-related duty station at Fort Jackson, SC, which is where I took Army Basic Combat Training myself in 1968. There he met a particular officer named Kaufman, with a headstrong personality.
He was soon shipped to England, and his command drew up a list as to how men would be deployed for the Battle of the Bulge at the end of 1944, after D-Day.  There was a triage system where unmarried men, or men without children, or under 21, were more likely to be sent into the most dangerous area of combat.  Again, this plays into the theme that I have often written about, where the unmarried or childless are expected to be the first to sacrifice (in connection with today’s gay marriage debate).
He got orders to go into combat himself, but at the last minute, Kaufman was sent instead. This was seen as dicey because Kaufman was a Jew, more likely to be exposed to capture by the Nazis.  (By the way, as I recall, this theme comes up in a 2002 short film called “The Retreat”, filmed in Minnesota, which I actually auditioned for in January 2002.)  Langley then got to the point of the sermon, of Jesus himself being a Jew making the supreme sacrifice for everyone.
Langley read from a poem he had authored, I believed titled “Torment, Mystery, Reality”.  (Related post, April 23.) 

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