A Letter and a Prayer

Robert Fantina, author of Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776-2007, recently wrote a letter to the New York Times. His heartfelt eloquence and outrage bears repeating: "It is incomprehensible that President Bush and his neo-con cohorts have somehow convinced congress that 'supporting the troops' means sending them into an unnecessary war without the lifesaving equipment they desperately need; continuing to keep them in constant, mortal danger; and now preventing them from spending as much time with their loved ones, whom they may never see again, as they spend in that danger. What further evidence is needed that this administration cares nothing for the soldiers it sends to fight its wars?"

With this in mind it would be salient to contemplate Mark Twain's reaction to the Philippine-American war (1899-1902), which Twain opposed. After hearing various clergy lead prayers in support of the war, Twain penned what he thought was the unspoken subtext of these preachers' sermons, "The War Prayer":

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen".

What do you think America: is this our current subtext?