One of the highlights of our recent vacation to Kentucky was our visit to Fort Knox. My husband and I knew in advance that Fort Knox itself was closed to tours, but just as we neared the fort via the highway bypass, we saw a sign for The Patton Museum. The display of tanks on the grounds was quite impressive, and we made the decision to stay the night nearby so as to visit the museum the next day.
Somehow, probably as a result of George C. Scott's award-winning portrayal in the movie Patton, I had always pictured the famous general as larger than life. Seeing how small his uniforms were came as quite a surprise! What matters, of course, was not General Patton's physical size but rather his commitment to achieving victory:
"I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight."
The museum contained a lot of material about the renowned general, and on prominent display was one of his Christmas cards to the troops; on the back of the typically worded greeting card was printed The Patton Prayer, which the men of the Third Army received on December 11-12, 1944. The weather lifted on December 20, and the Third Army eventually went on, in the face of extremely difficult odds to the contrary, to achieve victory in a hard-fought battle against the Nazis.
Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.
Perhaps to some, especially to those never having been on the field of battle, The Patton Prayer seems egocentric. Perhaps some feel that the general presumed too much and implied knowing the mind of God. But the man recognized Nazism as an evil which required total defeat, and he did his best to make sure that defeating the enemy was the outcome. To my mind, a war motivated by the ideal of exterminating evil is a just war--a necessary war--because fighting evil is a moral responsibility.
General Patton, a supreme military stategist, understood the importance of locate, close with, destroy. He believed that such was the only way to deal with evil personified by a totalitarian regime.
As we move forward from the the fourth anniversay of 9/11, and we see and hear the renewed threat from American al-Qaeda terrorist Adam Gadahn
, do Americans accept the necessity of using proven military strategy in order to achieve victory? Or have we become obsessed with pointlessly trying to understand the enemy?