The last British survivor of World War I still living in England died recently at age 111, but it was not only his military service that was celebrated at his funeral this week. It was the message of peace and reconciliation that he preached in his later years. Harry Patch, who was drafted into the British army in 1916, wanted people around the world to understand very clearly that we should never underestimate the cost of war.
From today's New York Times:
"Too many died,” he said, late in life, of the estimated 900,000 Britons killed in the conflict. “War isn’t worth one life.” He called war “the calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings,” Britain’s Press Association news agency said.Thousands of people, including soldiers from Britain, Belgium, France and Germany, came out to honor the solider who had been a machine-gunner and fought in one of the bloodiest battles of World War I in Belgium in 1917.
“Irrespective of the uniforms we wore,” he said, according to the BBC, “we were all victims.” His funeral came as British troops took record casualties alongside American, NATO and Afghan forces in Afghanistan."
The Times reported:
"Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff, said at the service, “We have lost our last living link to the fighting in the trenches of the West Front and a member of a generation that stood firm in the face of extraordinary adversity and unimaginable suffering,” according to an advance text of his remarks provided by the Defense Ministry. “But today above all else, we give thanks for the life of a brave and inspirational man whose message of reconciliation and peace has reached and touched so many.”Harry Patch experienced war, stared death in the face, watched as his friends and fellow soldiers fell around him. We should heed his words so that his message of peace does not die with him.
Read the full story HERE.