Today, on Armistice Day, 18 American military vets will commit suicide. This weekend, military veterans are gathering in Washington, D.C., for the second Truth Commission on Conscience in War. Today is also the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours: Patron Saint of Conscientious Objectors.
"War inflicts terrible, tragic consequences on all touched by it," says Truth Commission member Herman Keizer (U.S. Army ret.). "Moral conscience should not be one of its casualties."
St. Martin (born about 316) grew up in a military family. His father was an officer in the Empire's army. When Martin was 15 he followed his father into the military. But Martin had been influenced by Jesus-followers and had become a catechumen in the underground church. After several years in the military, the Empire came under attack. But Martin's ongoing conversion to Jesus made him realize that the military life was not compatible with his Christian faith. He refused military service and was taken off to prison. St. Martin was probably one of the earliest conscientious objectors. He made a protest, refused to fight, and lived through one war in prison.
In this video we see Martin of Tours' influence on U.S. veterans today.
Rose Marie Berger, an associate editor at Sojourners, blogs at www.rosemarieberger.com. She's the author of Who Killed Donte Manning? The Story of an American Neighborhood available at store.sojo.net.