In every city and town and on the Washington Mall are hard, cold granite monuments recording our failure to sustain peace.

For years I have pleaded with Congress to give us a Peace Academy and a Peace Department – to no avail.

I am a 101-year-old, blind and deaf World War II veteran who stood in “harm’s way” and looked into the jaws of death.

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” He also said, “Peace be with you.”

Like a proud house cat delivering a field mouse to his master’s threshold, so have Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King rolled out a bulging pork barrel from Washington to the gates of the Bath shipyard to finance a heavily armed guided-missile destroyer. But not one dollar for a Peace Academy.

Please share with me, a flashback of H-Hour on D-Day at Licata, Sicily, in 1943. Before H-Hour, the men scrambled to the boats to head for the enemy’s shore, while taking machine gun fire. Once ashore, they dug themselves foxholes and later proceeded to engage the enemy.

Some of these men would be carried back to the beach in their blood-soaked uniforms, by litter bearers and buried in shallow graves.

After repelling 17 German live-bombing attaches, we were hit amidships, at the waterline, and we sustained no injuries or deaths. A fully loaded ammunition ship with a crew of about 150 was anchored nearby. It was hit by a German bomb, creating an atomic bomb-like mushroom cloud a half-mile high.

The scene was horrific. What a terrible death it must have been. When the smoke disappeared, there was much debris on the water. Most of the crew were cremated and their souls rose on to Heaven.

When the guided-missile destroyer is christened and launched, the dove of peace, with an olive branch in its mouth, departs America. The candle in Flanders Field flickers and dies.

Fear and war conquer love and peace – at least for now. “Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.”

Coleman P. Gorham

retired Navy lieutenant commander and Portland native

Birmingham, Ala.


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