The year was 1914. Just 100 years ago. The Central Powers, led by Germany, were launching a major global offensive against the Allied forces of Russia, France, and Great Britain. The United States took a position of neutrality in an attempt to stay clear of the conflict.
On May 7, 1915, however, a German U-boat attacked and sank the Lusitania, a non-military British liner. 128 US citizens lost their lives, but Woodrow Wilson declared, “America is too proud to fight.”
During 1915-16 the American Congress worked to cut the military budget and in fact, defeated a “big navy” plan and scuttled the battleships.
January 31, 1917, German Ambassador to the United States presented U.S. Secretary of State a note declaring Germany’s intention to restart unrestricted submarine warfare. In February-March of 1917, German submarines targeted and sank several US merchant ships. On February 24, the British forwarded an intercepted German telegram to Mexico that promised war favors for attacking the US. Throughout this period the US maintained its position of neutrality. On February 26, Wilson asked Congress for the authority to arm U.S. merchant ships with U.S. naval personnel and equipment. While the measure would probably have passed in a vote, several anti-war Senators led a successful filibuster that consumed the remainder of the congressional session.
Finally, on April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress to request a declaration of war against Germany. Congress declared war on April 6, 1917.
War is not fun. The threats in it, the costs of it, the death produced by it; everything about it causes us to shrink back from it. Even when significantly impacted by it, we avoid it, and resist acknowledging it. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, “…and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”
An aversion to war has been woven somewhere into the fabric of American culture. We can hear the rumble of cannons, feel the ground reverberating under our feet, hear of casualties laying by the wayside, even smell the stench of decaying flesh. But we still get up in the morning, have our coffee, continue our routine, eat out at our favorite restaurant, go on vacation, and life continues with no sense of impending struggle or loss.
Sunday, December 7, 1941 started quietly, as many days before it had. Although all of Europe and most Asia and Russia were deeply embroiled in destructive warfare, men in Pearl Harbor had been out the Saturday evening before relaxing, partying… ignoring. War was raging, but all of life was quiet and routine as a country awoke on that quiet Sunday morning. The rest is history, as they say.
The family, as we know it, as God designed it, is under heavy attack. The sound of artillery can be heard in the distance. Casualties lie all around. The evidence of the conflict is abundant. But dads headed off to work this morning, moms did their morning chores, put their children on the bus for the day, then headed off to their jobs. I believe that it is time to sound the alarm. It is time to unveil the enemy. It is time to develop wartime strategy. It is time to declare war.