I walked down the long, marbled hall dimly lit by the overhead chandeliers. Every six feet or so an ornate alcove was built into the walls, each holding a pedestaled marble bust of transcendent military leaders dating from antiquity. Walking down this hallway was both inspirational and foreboding.
Some of these leaders, such as Genghis Khan, Caesar (both Julius and Augustus), Washington, Grant, Eisenhower, Patton… were great leaders because history thrust them into the breach and their brilliance was made manifest. Then there was the single statue in the middle, at the end of the hall. It was not a bust, but a full marble rendition of a soldier who was completely anachronistic: a Roman breastplate, a canteen from WWII, a musket in one hand held across his body, while a bow and arrow hung on his back, modern combat boots on his feet, and a boonie cap lazily sat on his head.
He stood at one end of the hall gazing towards the other. Opposite, at the far side of the hall and behind me, stood a similar statue of Athena. Rather than looking off in the distance as most versions of her do, she stared directly ahead at the anachronistic solider.
There was no nameplate in bronze under him as existed on all the other busts. He was, in a sense, nameless and represented all soldiers of all wars ever fought throughout our human experiment.
Each time I traverse this hall, I feel the same level of awe I get at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Daniel Chester French’s statue stares down at me and I feel…well… inadequate.
That is precisely how I feel when I am in the presence of these statues.
I bore right into the library.
Sitting in front of the fire, under the oil painting of Napoleon, was the LTC. He was already halfway through his cigar and a legal file rested across his lap. Next to him on the end table was a glass of whisky.
I could see the LTC smile as he continued looking at the file.
“Evening, Captain. Joining me for a drink or paying homage to our friends in the hall?”
“Les Deux, Mon Colonel.”
“Sit down, my friend, and let’s switch to Latin for bit?”
I sat down and watched as the Colonel poured me a glass of whisky.
“Vigilantibus et non dormintibus, juris serventium.”
I raised an eyebrow as we toasted.
“Indeed, Colonel… the law only protects those who don’t sleep on their rights.”
“I’m glad to see you have kept your Latin operational.”
“We were trained by Jesuits, my friend.”
The LTC chuckled. “Yes, there is that.”
“So… who is ignoring their rights, Colonel?”
He looked up and stared at me over his reading glasses perched on the end of his nose.
“All of us, my good Captain.”
I nodded. “I think I know what you mean.”
“I think you do, but tonight I am not being particularly one dimensional. I think that globally, as a species, we have begun to actively ignore our most fundamental of rights.”
“Those granted by the Creator?”
“Indeed. We can bicker about land use and sensitive locations all day long. We now see a great global movement where inalienable rights are not necessarily being forcibly taken by governments, rather people are lining up to actively surrender them.”
“Yes, but inalienable runs both ways. A government can’t take it, but a person cannot surrender it either.”
“Oh, but they can, Captain. It does not mean it was legitimate. But they can do it nonetheless. Petruchio can call the sun the moon all day long… it does not make it so.”
“So, why then this movement of lemmings heading towards the abyss? That is the question, Captain.”
“We have talked cosmology before. Lucifer was, well… is the ultimate humanist, is he not? There is no struggle to fall before him. This is why he is so seductive. God requires work. He requires energy, and yes… even faith. Lucifer demands none of that. Much like a government that could provide all for everyone all the time. The only demand is fealty to that government. It is just as seductive, and, I suppose, just as much an abomination.”
“Let us hope, Captain, that the angels guide us towards the path of righteousness.”
“Indeed, Colonel. Let us hope we recognize those angels in the first place.”