From the Woolner Family
© Leslie Woolner Bardsley
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Frank Woolner
Journalist, Headquarters, 3rd Armored Division

Post-war year of writing unknown


Curiously, but perhaps others experience identical excursions into the unknown, I dream more often of the dead than the living, yet nothing of nightmare proportions is involved; it is always as though members of my immediate family, now deceased, or close friends who have passed away are both fully alive and exactly as they were in body and speech prior to a dark day when Manitou dictated fini to earthly adventure. So, this far from morbid phenomenon is a pleasant recollection stored away in a teeming mind. A combat soldier in youth and therefore disillusioned about any hereafter, I have been a long-time agnostic.

Dreams of the lost ones, always benign, raise a question that I hope is correct. Perhaps there is something to be said for the soul's immortality. Surely I desire this to be so, for the definition of an agnostic is not an atheist - but one who doubts that humankind can be anything other than blatantly presumptuous in expecting resurrection after death. I see nothing horrendous in counting myself one of this planet's higher forms of animals destined, at the last gasp, to feed the flowers and other forms of terrestrial life with the juices and ashes of a natural transition.

Therefore, an admitted cynic and questioner, I have discussed the matter with learned ecclesiastical types. They usually admit that I have a point, but gently insist that I am wrong. I hope I am wrong.

In WW-II, when those of us who were fatalistic combat soldiers expecting to die the ticket to a shroud, I would not attend religious services prior to a known big attack. Reason: I figured that if I had not prayed to an Almighty God before danger threatened, then the diety was unlikely to listen. I would only be one of many legions of the lost ones.

Better to copper one's bets by honoring the ten commandments which are morally just and logical than to cry for help only when afraid or hurt. Almighty God, if there is such, must have a dossier on each of us. In the event that there is a nebulous hereafter, He will make a decision.

We old soldiers are particularly involved. Now, in peace, we are the gentlest of human beings - but we had to be murderers in war. How does that measure up? Is a national order to kill, too often predicated on power politics, any excuse? Now, a little beyond the biblical three score and ten, I wonder.

Right, after another span of years I will embark upon the last great adventure and may, or may not, know the truth. It doesn't at all matter that I will repose in a flag-draped coffin or that close relatives weep a few tears at parting. I will depart, as President Harry Truman said, convinced that I have "done my damndest" to be a decent citizen and a man of no more than the minor faults of humankind. All who profess no error at all are liars.

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