Sunday, April 2, 2017

100 Years Ago Today: Wilson Asks for War

On April 2, 1917,  Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany and bring the US into World War I.

Wilson was solemn as he spoke to a joint session of Congress which he had called for the purpose. He really didn't want to go to war, but he knew that our allies needed our help to end the war -- without the US, the conflict would go on for an extended time.

As quoted in Life magazine, Wilson told Congress:

"It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance, but the right is more precious than peace. 
Congress, which had been waiting to hear this request, cheered.

Wilson was appalled. "Think of what it was they were applauding," he told his private secretary Joseph Tumulty. "My message today was a message of death for our young men. How strange it seems to applaud that." And then, he sobbed.

Wilson was not a perfect president. None of them have been, really. But if there must be war, I would want my president to have this attitude going in: a combination of understanding the reality and reluctance because of it and also a willingness to do a right and necessary thing.

I pray for peace. For no more death for young men (and women) because of war. I pray for those places where there is war. I pray that our leaders know what war is and enter into reluctantly only when the right is more precious than peace.

God bless us all. 

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