By Ray Knapp
The recent funeral services for two World War II veterans in Erwin – PVT Evan Overbey who survived the Bataan Death March, only to die in a Japanese prison in 1942. His remains were identified 74 years later; returned to his family in Erwin where a fitting tribute was paid to this old soldier before being interred at Mountain Home National Cemetery in Johnson City.
A day prior to that, services for Lt. Col. Creston Jackson Fowler of Erwin were held. He was a military pilot in WW II, the Korean War and Vietnam; the recipient of many prestigious awards including the Bronze Star, Cross of Gallantry and the Vietnam Honor Medal.
World War II soldiers are often referred to as America’s Greatest Generation, maybe because we were being attacked by enemies from the east and west … and in the beginning, not ready for war, it was a fight for the very survival of our nation – and that generation won that war for us.
Thinking about that, I recalled an interview with the oldest WW II veteran in Flag Pond, TN in 2002 – Thomas “Mutt” Corn. He had some harrowing tales to tell of being shot at while crossing the Rhine River in a small boat with his squad, fleeing from Germans. Also of seeing the bodies of 1000 Jews burned to death in a concrete block enclosure, and many more stories of the horrors of war. Mutt died a little over a year after that interview.
Those funeral services also got me to thinking about my 20 years in the navy – all during Vietnam…but at the height of it, I was nowhere near there. I was in Atlanta and had the collateral duty of being in charge of the military funeral detail for sailors & marines. For a while the collateral duty almost turned into a full time job. It was certainly sad to tell the relatives, “No I didn’t know your son, father, or husband,” – but in a way we all did; he was the boy down the street, our older brother that never came home, someone’s husband, or father and the very cornerstone of the democracy and freedom we enjoy to this day. Still there is war – more men and women dying in battle, and more recently it seems more innocent victims than soldiers are being killed, and it started before the Gulf Wars and 9/11 – what is the reason?
Are these deaths all about religion? I’m no expert on the Bible, much less the Quran, though I do know the Bible says, “Love your neighbor, as yourself.” Which to me contrasts with the Quran, Quran (9:5) – “So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.” I don’t know how you interpret that, but seeing as how we believe
in the Son, and Holy Spirit as well as God, in other
words, The Trinity – it would appear that Jesus and the Holy Spirit would be idols according to the Quran. And it’s also saying: Convert, or pay with your life, if I interpret that verse correctly. I do know a lot of innocent people have been ambushed by radical Muslims from 9/11 to the latest killings in Nice, France by some nut running into a crowd of innocent people with a large truck.
Wars are not being played out as much on the battlefields with soldiers from either side squaring off against one another. It’s more like radicalized moles eating away piecemeal at the roots of non-Muslim nations through deadly, terroristic acts. I know our founding fathers created a regime that was hospitable to Christians, but also to practitioners of other religions, but when a religion is based on killing innocent people unless they convert – that doesn’t constitute a religion. It constitutes an act of aggression.
If indeed the Muslim religion is kind and loving, let them not love in word or talk, but in actions and in truth.