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Soldiers and the Ultimate Truth - Death and Honor
By Madan G Singh

There is a military cemetery at Imphal in eastern India where hundreds of soldiers lie. They are the men who fell in battle at this hilly place while fighting the Japanese so that India was kept secure. To stand there in the evening dusk one can wonder about the campaign they had died for. Similarly there are war cemeteries all over the world from the cemetery at Coriano Ridge in Italy to Singapore.

A look will tell you nothing and the rows of white crosses will stretch away into the shadows, each with a unit crest or name. There may also be an inscription which could be chosen by someone who knew the man that lies in the grave. The cemeteries all over the world of world war soldiers who died fighting are very well preserved. But is that any solace to the men who died?

We must remember that these men died while trying to do their best and did not live to see or learn whether they were on the winning side or not. Every once in a row you may come across a soldier with no name or the words 'a soldier of the second world war, known to God'. These are the Unknown Soldier who died in doing their duty.

A question that does come to ones mind is 'why did they die?' The cynic may say that they died for that was their lot, so that others may live. Such a statement is not only foolish but without the element of truth. Death on the battlefield is the highest honor for a soldier and it is important we revere his memory and look after the relatives he left behind.

The cemeteries point to the one common fact for both the opponent and his enemy that death is the great leveler. The second great leveler is that the men who died would never know that what they fought for was achieved. Do the men who lie in the cemetery at Coriono Ridge know that the campaign for which they died was a failure or the men who died in the siege at Imphal by the Japanese know that the siege was lifted and the Imperial Army pushed back.

Perhaps not, for the end all of a soldier's life is the cemetery or the cremation ground, But we who are alive can appreciate that soldiering is a profession that must be held in the highest esteem. Perhaps all soldiers who die in action will end up with the Gods. Let us pray for them.


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