Risks and Laurels

Erwin Rommel was one of the greatest generals of World War II. Unfortunately, he played for the wrong team, being not concerned for the politics or morality of his situation until later in the war. In the main, he was a military man inspired deeply, ironically, by Confederate general Stonewall Jackson.

Rommel made his reputation in a series of daring campaigns carried out in the North African desert. (The rigors and difficulties of that aspect of the war was fictionally, and yet, I believe, accurately reflected in Steven Pressfield’s Killing Rommel, a book given to me by my son this past Christmas.)

In that rugged and desolate terrain, the supply chain was always of paramount importance. One biographer, David Fraser, says this about Rommel’s attitude and success in that campaign:

“Rommel may not have gained a reputation for painstaking personal absorption in the detail of supply within the North African theatre before campaign…. He certainly sometimes ran out of fuel – and, often by his own initiative, repaired the situation; and he more often ran the risk of running out of fuel.”

That much is the biographer’s report of the facts. What follows is the biographer’s editorial comment on the matter:

“It is likely, however, in the sort of fluid situations, the sort of mobile manoeuvres at which he was master, that the man who never risks running out of fuel is inclined to risk nothing; and he who risks nothing is seldom crowned with the laurels of victory.”

[David Fraser, Knights Cross: a Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, page 239, 1993.]

“He who risks nothing is seldom crowned with the laurels of victory.”

Sometimes, those who risk, fail. But rarely if ever is there victory without the risk.

What is true in warfare is true, as well, in our marriages, our churches, and our lives of faith.

I need to be encouraged to take the risks as well as to not despair when in so doing, I run out of fuel.

Of Moons and Slide Rules

I hate to pile posts upon posts, and it seems I’ve been posting a ton recently, but I can’t let this one go without linking it.

Forty years ago today, men walked on the moon for the very first time. I woke up this morning pondering the amazing image seen last night replayed on TV of an engineer working on the original design of the F1 engine, five of which were used to launch the Saturn V rocket into space. He was sitting there with a pile of papers and a slide rule.

That’s how this magnificent machine was built.

With that in mind, I just read this post which expands upon the wonder of this accomplishment of a dream. It’s a fascinating (and short) read.

It contains a link to a site where NASA is streaming in real time, forty years delayed, the actual continuous audio between Mission Control in Houston and the Apollo crew. Fascinating, though, as I type, I think the astronauts are sleeping. Not a lot being said!

So, sorry for all the chatter here at Somber and Dull lately. But I couldn’t leave this one be. I’d like to grow reflective on this, and speak of the passion and creativity involved in pursuing dreams, and of not letting one’s dreams die… but I’ve said enough.