TITLE: The Rest of the Story – WWI Finale
DATE: November 28, 2018
TEXT: Ephesians 1:7 - ESV - 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
On November 11, 1918, the Germans, Brits and French signed the armistice to end WWI. The Germans wanted an immediate cease fire; the French pushed for the 11th hour of the 11th day. That was partly to get word to the front lines, but also because it was kind of symbolic, almost poetic.
The 6-hours between the signing and the actual ending cost 3,000 men their lives.
The list of dead would include American Henry Gunther who was the last of the 320 Americans to die that morning. Here’s Henry’s story.
Henry was the grandson of German immigrants. At home he worked in a bank and was engaged to be married. He was sent to France in July of 1918 with the rank of Sergeant. Sadly, some military censors read a letter he wrote to a friend back home urging him to avoid serving in the military.
That letter got Henry stripped of rank. When his fiancée heard of the demotion, she dumped him.
Henry changed after that. Once fun loving and amiable, Henry withdrew. He volunteered for dangerous jobs like running messages to the front. He was shot in the hand and that injury could have taken him home, but Henry stayed till the end.
That end came on the morning of November 11th when word arrived telling Henry and his unit to stay put. Don’t retreat; don’t advance… just stay where you are for another 16-minutes.
Henry didn’t listen.
Germans manning a machine gun saw an individual stand up in the America lines. With his bayonet fixed to his rifle, the soldier stood up and charged. Henry’s comrades called him back; the Germans told him to stop. Henry did neither. The Germans fired five-rounds from their machine gun. It hit Henry in the temple.
Henry died immediately…10:59.
Now some will say Henry used the last minutes of the war to commit suicide. Most of his comrades thought he was trying to make amends, trying to restore his honor, trying to redeem his name and his reputation for himself and the people back home.
It was a gesture which succeeded, at least in part. In 1923 Henry received the Distinguished Service Star and was posthumously reinstated to the rank of Sergeant.
Have you ever done something wrong and then tried to set it right by doing something right? Have you ever hurt, or offended someone else; have you ever shamed or embarrassed yourself and felt you had to do something to make your misaction go away?
Have you ever, like Henry, tried to redeem yourself?
In front of fellow sinners, redeeming yourself is a difficult thing to do. Redeeming yourself before the Lord is an impossibility. We simply don’t have the means to completely remove the black stains of sin which have besmirched our souls.
Which is why we need a Savor to make a sacrifice for us. Such a sacrifice was made by Jesus throughout His life, in His suffering, death and eternity-changing resurrection. Now because of what Jesus has done, Paul could write: “ In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…”
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I rejoice in a Savior Who has restored me to Your favor and the family of faith. Be with me so that I might offer the confidence of being redeemed by Christ to others who, this day, are still lost. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion was inspired by various articles, amongst which is the one written by Christopher Klein on November 11, 2018 for History. Those who wish may check out this link which was, at the time of writing, fully active: https://www.history.com/news/world-war-i-armistice-last-american-death
The music which introduces and concludes our devotions was written by Guy Baumann, one of my long-ago confirmands. He is singing with three brothers. This song comes from the album: The Baumann Brothers which may be ordered here: http://thebaumannbrothers.com/index.html