As we approach Remembrance Day, I am thinking about the sacrifice of so many, so that so many more might be free. On February 19, 2010, John Babcock, Canada’s last surviving veteran of WW1, died at the age of 110. Though he may have been the last surviving soldier who served in WWI, the legacy of his, and his fellow soldiers sacrifices live on.
Looking at the background of WW1, one of the keys to the ultimate victory for the Allied Forces in the Great War was the securing of hills and higher ground. The military importance of high ground has been recognized for many years. Fighting from an elevated position is easier for a number of reasons: it offers an elevated vantage point with a wide field of view, enabling surveillance of the surrounding landscape, and providing early warning about enemy troops. Soldiers who are elevated above their enemies can get greater range out of their ammunition as well. By comparison, soldiers fighting uphill tend to tire more quickly and move more slowly.
The most significant “hill” battles of WW1 was the battle at Vimy Ridge. In the face of great opposition and rugged terrain, the Canadian forces, including brave souls, much like Lance Corporal John Babcock, secured Hill 145, the highest and most important section of the ridge. This victory was significant in the life of and building of Canada.
As Vimy Ridge was a hill battle that defined our nation, there is another well-known hill battle which featured a dramatic victory. Two thousand years ago, soldiers pounded a wooden cross into the top of a barren hill. In the most stunning events in all of history, the One who was nailed to that Cross became the Victor in the greatest war there will ever be for all time and for you and me. The war against sin.
On Remembrance Day, while we remember all the dedicated men and women who served or currently serve their country, I invite you to consider Jesus whose “hill” victory makes life and peace possible. I close with the words of a poem read over the radio by King George VI to his Nation at the first Christmas of WWII…
I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year.
“Give me a light that
I may tread safely into the unknown.
“And he replied,
“Go out into the
darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you
better than light and safer than a known way!”
So I went forth and finding the Hand of God,
trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills
and the breaking of day in the lone East.
Minnie Louise Haskins 1875-1957
In His Peace,