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Review: Jess E. Weiss: Warrior to Spiritual Warrior

By Remy Benoit

World War 11 was war, total war of the world. It was not an alien invasion starting on the air waves in New Jersey, but was rooted in a punitive peace from another total war. World War 1 was supposed to end all wars. It was grounded in retribution, in avarice, in fear. And like all fear it fed upon itself in economic depression, in failures of diplomacy, in greed, in scapegoat, in hate, in murder, and in totalitarianism.

The armistice period between these two world wars came to an end on September 1, 1939 with the German Wehrmacht invading Poland; tanks, infantry against cavalry. On that day the tentative and false peace came to an end.

The Blitzkrieg began on May 10, 1940 against Belgium and the Netherlands; Paris was occupied on June 14th; the armistice between France and Germany signed on June 22.
On June 22, 1941, the night of the “white lights” the night of the midnight sun in Petrograd, Operation Barbarous went into operation with Germany invading the Soviet Union.

Here at home in the States the dilemma of war bred discussion, dissention, and political unrest. With the European war spreading there came the demise of the German American Bund, Pulley's Silver Shirts. The reprimand of Father Coughlin by the Vatican for his reranting had already come in 1936. The America Firsters wanted no involvement in the European conflict. But the German submarines; the possibilities of trans-Atlantic flight; the alliances between the Axis powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy were quite apparently going to bring the war to the United States.

The American Japanese were interred in prison camps; the racism obvious as this was not done to Italian or German Americans. With the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States was at war, in shock, despite the historical fact that the Japanese had done the same thing in 1904 at Port Arthur to the Russians.

Despite the horrific losses of soldiers in World War I, despite the shell shock of veterans, untreated for the most part, sometimes treated with electric shock, despite the incredible monetary costs, the world was at war again, learning nothing from the war to end all wars.

Battle names became as common place as victory gardens. Love letters went back and forth, highly censored. Combat in North Africa, in Sicily was known to Jess Weiss; Normandy came next for him. What can be said about the horrors of the landing on the five beachheads at Normandy? That the tides ran red with blood; that wave after wave of soldiers left landing craft, many to never even make it to shore, cut down as one might take a scythe to trim off high weeds? Total war, but who could even begin to compare that to the “sacrifices” at home with food, fuel rationing; with shortened shirts to save material; with my Granny Eva sewing parachutes, while Granny Agnes served as an air raid warden; where kids gave their pennies to buy victory bonds? Where landing craft were being built down here in New Orleans; where U-boats cruised the Atlantic and Gulf Coast lines? Those in combat knew hell. Those here at home knew doing without this and that. Those at home waited, dreaded the knock on the door; dreaded the telegram-We regret to inform you...

How does any of that compare to body parts being blown asunder on five beaches with the Germans high up firing relentlessly? Where personal survival became the order of the day? Where as Jess so eloquently puts it, one has buddies here today gone tomorrow; not friends, friends last, friends imply long term relationships.

Into France; Jess is welcomed by wine, the French, the celebration of freedom again spreading. On to Germany, more battles, endless blood seeping into French, Dutch, Belgian, German soil again, were changing the earth for ever. Blood of enemies becoming part of the soil; seeping into food growing, cattle grazing, over the years making us who feud even more connected. Making us all one in the midst of slaughter.

Where does the mind stop being able to cope with this by doing anything but storing it in mental compartments; compartments feared to be opened again; compartments aside from anything one who has not been there can even begin to understand? And yet communicate with our veterans we must.

Home again, after years apart; home again, get on with it. No name for it then. No name for the things that made soldiers walk the streets at night; made soldiers unable to relate to diapers, grocery lists, the mundane when during their service life was on such an easily broken thread. Bombs falling from the sky, droning on and on were worse even than the long range Big Bertha had been in World War 1. Bombs causing fires; bombs falling as babies were born in the underground in London. Bombs eating French, Dutch, Belgian, German, Polish, Austrian, Italian, Russian, Estonian, Latvian, Finnish farms, homes, cities. Special units, Einsatzgruppen death squads of SS. Huge holes with limed over bodies full of bullet holes. As decorate Viet Nam veteran John Cory says, “War is holes. “ War Holes.
Concentration camps liberated.

War is insanity set loose. Jess kept a diary from Omaha Beach D-Day; to the day he was wounded. Day by day death and war is there for you. Home again, hair triggered just as are our veterans now; just as those of my generation of Viet Nam veterans. Veterans of all wars asking: WHY? WHY was all that I saw? Why was all that I knew? Veterans of all wars asking: Who am I now, who am I now, after all that I have seen, after all that I have known; after all that I had to do to stay alive? WHY did I live when my buddies met such terrible deaths? WHY is there such evil, such real evil that I have seen in the world? AND WHERE WAS GOD IN ALL THIS?

Jess Weiss was there: in North Africa, in Sicily, at Normandy, into Germany. He knew it all, brought all of it home with him; struggled with it; was plagued by all of it. And then he found peace; spiritual peace that brought him to write this book that can be life changing for veterans. I am not one to say that easily. Warrior to Spiritual Warrior can change lives. It doesn't matter which war was your war; it does matter if you are seeking answers. It does matter if you are seeking peace.

Jess is 96 now. He is still there for you; still trying to share his long journey home with you. Read this book, change your life; change the lives of those who love you by taking a spiritual journey to peace. Plow the road of all that has remained to be a constant mine field for you, and replace those residual mines, those Bouncing Betties, those IEDs with peace. Take a walk to peace with this incredible World War II veteran who knew it all, learned something from it, and offers you his findings, his peace, his mentorship page by page, pain by pain, to peace. Become a Spiritual Warrior and then pass that knowing along to others. Jess has your back; you can do for others what he can do for you with this book. Read it, now.


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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