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Prayer for the War-Scarred

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 16, 2013

Prayer for the War-Scarred

By Gene Romolo

Dear Lord, extend your hand and make them whole,
These who must bear the maims and scars of war!
They have paid to Mars, extortionate toll,
And now they pause in throngs about the door
That leads to You, the God of love and peace
To plead, not for themselves, for other men
Who battle on and must till strife shall cease.
They have returned to gather up again
Strands left of life to weave a pattern new,
Yet one as old as time. Each tangled thread
Help them to smooth and ply, for only You,
Who heal the sick and who have raised the dead,
Can raise them from their agony of soul.
Touch them, dear Lord, touch them and make them whole.

(1944)



5 Comments »

  1. Interesting that the poet focuses more on the “agony of soul” than actual physical wounds. Surely, the specter of PTSD has ravaged veterans for centuries, even if it wasn’t identified by that name.

    Comment by The Other Clark — April 16, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

  2. That’s a nice poem.

    It was battle fatigue in World War II and shell shock in World War I.

    I don’t know what it was called before then.

    I wonder how much is the result of the mechanization of warfare since the U.S. Civil War–did Henry’s troops suffer battle fatigue after traipsing about the north of France in the early 15th century and spending one day in a hard-fought battle? Or does that condition only arise when men spend months in trenches dodging shellfire, or day after day on patrol risking life and limb to Improvised Explosive Devices?

    Comment by Mark B. — April 16, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

  3. Mark B. Is the psychological damage greater from 3 weeks in the trenches shooting bullets at distant targets, or 3 hours dismembering enemy bodies at close range with swords, axes, pikes, and whatever else was used before gunpowder?

    To me, both sound like they’d create long-lasting negative effects.

    Comment by The Other Clark — April 16, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

  4. On a personal note, this WWII-era poem is particularly poignant since my grandfathers brother, who fought in the conflict, returned home with PTSD and it ultimatley cost him his life. (He was burning ditch banks one spring years after the war when a crop duster made a low pass overhead and mentally, he was back in combat. He dived for cover, which unfortunately was in reality the flaming ditchbank. By the time his brother got to him from the far side of the field, the injuries were extremely serious, and he passed away from related infections shortly therafter.)

    Comment by The Other Clark — April 16, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

  5. TOC–I don’t know the answer to that question. It’s not so much the shooting at the enemy but the enemy shooting at you and the continuous noise and the risk of death that every incoming shell carries. And the reaction, over and over again, to the noise of those shells, even when your conscious mind would tell you that there’s no risk. Another personal note–my dad said that the German 88 made a distinctive crack that inevitably caused one to dive for cover when one heard it, even though the high muzzle velocity of that gun meant that the projectile arrived nearly simultaneously with the sound, so if it was going to hit you you’d be dead before you heard it.

    There wouldn’t have been that much noise and the risk of death from shelling in the middle ages.

    Comment by Mark B. — April 16, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

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