Edward Lukert, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1914. He served as a First Lieutenant in the trenches of France. His letters home to his wife were often filled with philosophical musings on faith, justice and the meaning of war. In the following letter, Ed ponders the question many soldiers and their families debated about during war time – Why?
August 19, 1918
Last night there was a terrible bombardment downstairs, which might have been a raid or a small attack. I could see the flash of German guns all along the line from here, but I could only hear our own. It surely was a pretty sight. What impressed me most, as I looked down upon them, was the insignificance of man and all his terrible weapons of war. They looked like towys, down there, and I am no where near as high as Heaven. Wonder what we poor creatures and our murderous guns look like from up there?
We are a poor people, know it? It makes me feel sorry for everybody, but “we two,” that they must settle differences by going to war. Why in the dickens should we have to kill each other to settle a matter of opinion or a matter of liberty or rights? We should have these things, and when they are denied, it should only be necessary to call attention to the matter of injustice to have it rectified. Don’t you think so?
Sometime ago I told you about capturing a Hun. Remember? Well, I’m mailing you his cap today, after having had it washed and cleaned up a bit.
Heaps of love xxxxx
On Friday, September 13, 1918, the day Ed would call as “the most luckless of unlucky days” – he was injured by shrapnel in his right thigh during the offensive at Saint-Mihiel in northeastern France. Ed was lucky to be alive and felt guilt at the fact that many men around him – some being his friends – had been killed. He returned home to his wife. Ed spent 36 years in the Army and served in World War II as a regimental commander.