Is there Glory in War?

By | April 25, 2021

[April 25, 2021]  War is a common condition of humans.  In truth, it can be convincingly argued that the history of our human condition is perpetual war.  Peace is an aberration.  I want to address a comment I hear often … “Given that war is so common, is there glory in war?”

To begin, I want to be clear; war is inherently terrible.  The price paid is high.  We have all heard the idea that men join the military for the sake of glory.  That, I believe is wrong headed.  Most of those who join any military in any nation do so for adventure and for the comradery.  Glory is the last thing on their minds.

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.” – William Tecumseh Sherman

We might hear how war in the old days were glorious, usually in the time of knights and chivalry.  But those were legends written by people who were not there at the time and only desired to praise some conquering hero.  Surely this is not glory.

Does this mean that there was no glory in ridding the world of fascism and imperialism in World War II?  Does this mean that there is no glory in an effort to destroy communism – an ideology used to extinguish the lives of more than 100 million in the 20th century?  Does this mean that men love war?  Does it mean that something that is so common, so ingrained into every culture, and so studied and lionized that we do indeed glorify war?

War’s lure is a fundamental human passion – what the Bible calls the “lust of the eye.”1  War stops time, intensifies experiences, offers endless exotic experiences, provides freedom, removes fear, and provides certainty.  War replaces the gritty daily gray areas of daily life with a stark clarity.  In war, you know your enemy and who is your friend, and are given means of dealing with both.

Sadly, war is often a necessity to stop evil doers from the enslavement of others and the systematic destruction of other nations.  Is there glory in fighting the good fight where evil is destroyed and peoples freed?  Perhaps some would make that argument, but not I.  Despite its siren’s appeal, there is no glory in war, period.

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  1. I John 2:15-17
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

17 thoughts on “Is there Glory in War?

  1. Dead Pool Guy

    There is glory in war if we define glory as doing something great for your country. I think that the idea of “glory” is not clear but should be made so. That way we can openly discuss the idea. My thinking is that glory as seen in war is too vague to really discuss.

    Reply
    1. Shawn C. Stolarz

      glory
      noun, plural glo·ries,
      very great praise, honor, or distinction bestowed by common consent; renown:
      to win glory on the field of battle.
      something that is a source of honor, fame, or admiration; a distinguished ornament or an object of pride:
      a sonnet that is one of the glories of English poetry.
      adoring praise or worshipful thanksgiving:
      Give glory to God.

      Reply
    2. Jerome Smith

      I think there is glory in war. But that does not make war just.

      Reply
  2. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    War’s lure is a fundamental human passion – well said.

    Reply
    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Yes, it is so attractive, like so much gold that it becomes worthless when too much is available.

      Reply
  3. Wendy Holmes

    There is no glory in war the best lines come from the first world war (suposedly the war to end all wars)
    1 Lions Led by donkeys
    2 A whole generation butchered

    Reply
  4. Max Foster

    There never was any glory in war. There may be some noble ideals realized (courage, commitment, sacrifice) in the course of fighting a war, but the “glory” you refer to is an abstract concept perpetuated by people who never actually had to fight a war. Commitment to service to my people / country and tradition were the driving forces for me when many join the military, not the pursuit of glory.

    Reply
    1. corralesdon

      Well said, Max. Glory… What a sadly anachronistic concept… There was once a time before political correctness got in the way, when a man was held in high regard for being great at something, for sacrificing himself for a greater good and for doing his duty because he was asked or because he did what was right. Those days are gone. Honor, glory, triumph, sacrifice. duty… So few people understand those words now.

      Reply
      1. Plato

        Every war since the dawn of time produced heroes.. men and women worthy of glory and respect. as we move in to the future the heroes become fewer and fewer, technology and politics takes it’s place.

        Reply
  5. Jeff Blackwater

    Is there glory in war?
    I suspect glory is a word used to try and retrospectively justify war. In time all wars are found to have been for nothing. War should be avoided at all costs. So how can something you try to avoid at all costs bestow glory?

    Reply
    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      Hi Jeff, good points but I think that we are missing the point here. Most of what we are saying is just going around and around because we have not defined the term ‘glory.’ I propose that it is something heroic. In that case we can debate as a starting point. I know many will disagree on my definition but that is the price of creating a starting place to talk.

      Reply
  6. Greg Heyman

    Excellent article on a topic that has been around since the beginning of mankind.

    Reply
  7. KenFBrown

    Thanks Gen. Satterfield for taking a position on this topic. Too many folks think they are somehow superior to us as they impute motives to those who prepare for war as if they believe there is only glory in war. How twisted their logic is sometimes is a question for great sages.

    Reply

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