Letter: Observe a moment of silence for the horror of war

November 11, 2018

One hundred years ago, my uncle Harry Rowley served his country in Europe during World War I. He was one of 118,000 Minnesota soldiers who served. Harry was born in Rochester in 1893 and was my father’s “favorite brother.” He taught me that there was no glory, no patriotic feeling from the mustard gas and muddy trenches. In fact, he had nothing good to talk about. He preferred silence.

In November 1918, Rochester was filled with influenza and the resulting death. Saint Marys Hospital and the Sisters of St Francis were overburdened. My dad talked of the fear that spread as a result of the influenza and the death that often followed. At 13 years of age he now lived outside the city of Rochester, which provided for less human contact.

In the 1970s as a teacher I found a novel to introduce the horror of that war to the students. “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo provided the narrative. The main character, Joe Bonham, became the way to introduce the pain to students. In this 100th year, please observe a moment of silence for the horror of war.

Edward P. Rowley, Rochester

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