Ferguson: Killer (10-2-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 2, 1943)


Ferguson: Killer

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

Many women are shocked these days to find husbands and sons honored for bravery in battle, tagged with the horrible word “killer.”

A hero’s wife said:

It seems such a strange way to describe Jack. He isn’t a killer. He’s a very kind person.

It is unfortunate that the word so popular in the ‘20s to describe outlaws has been applied to soldiers. We should find another term to describe the men who are fighting for our freedom.

But, I can hear you say, why be so squeamish? To kill the enemy is heroic. We must kill, if we are to conquer.

There’s no denying that, of course, and yet when Jack and Jim and John come home, and look over their treasured clippings in after years, I’m sure they too will cringe at the word, just as the women who love them are cringing now. No man will want to be designated to his children as a “killer” whatever his military exploits have been.

Women who have reared their sons in the precepts of the Christian religion find it hard to fit that word into any mental picture which includes their boys. Maybe this is a sentimental attitude, but I believe it is one we should keep.

By God’s grace, we live in a land of comparative safety. We have escaped the bombings and terrors visited upon other countries, which places an added responsibility upon us. While providing the implements of war and fighting men, we cannot escape another duty – that of preserving the dream of mercy and kindness upon the earth. For if that dies, freedom will be but an empty word.

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Mrs. Ferguson is correct and ahead of her time. Most WWII military men and women did not share the ugly details of their war service. Unfortunately, many were haunted by nightmares and sought refuge in drugs and alcohol. The lifelong consequences of this war remain with all of us to this day.