#ThrowbackThursday: The ultimate sacrifice


The film “American Sniper” is easily one of the most successful films of the year. It has already made over $250 million and has many moviegoers rushing with enthusiasm. Along with these fans, there are many critics of the film. Many say it is just to boost morale for the war effort, and Seth Rogen went as far as to compare it Nazi propaganda.

Fortunately, one thing everyone seems to agree on is the fact that Chris Kyle was a true American hero.

There is nothing more patriotic then serving one’s nation. By enlisting, soldiers pledge to defend this country and their fellow fighters from any type of harm, even if it means death. The sacrifices these men and women have to make every day can never truly be understood by a civilian.

The things they have all seen and done just so a nation may live and a man may continue to breathe would haunt anyone.  These types of sacrifices could only be understood by men like Jonathan Pearson, who was a member of the Union Class of 1942.

Pearson was a very active member of the campus community. He was a brother of Sigma Phi and was a member of the Garnet Key Society and Terrace Council.

Most impressively, Pearson was an active writer for the Concordiensis and the Idol for all four years of his education. By his senior year, he was the Sports Editor for the Concordy. Along with writing, Pearson loved to run, earning his varsity “U” on the cross-country and track teams.

The Concordy must have been a thrill for the young man, for upon graduation he took a position on the editorial staff of the Schenectady Gazette. That stint was interrupted when he enlisted in the Army.

Originally a member of the field artillery, Pearson switched to Air Force where he received his Silver Wings and the commission of Second Lieutenant in 1943. Everything seemed bright for this young man.

On March 31, 1944, the Concordy ran the headline, “Lieut. Pearson Union Alumnus Missing in Action.” Pearson, a beloved student of Union, had been reported missing while on an operation deep within Germany. His fellow classmate Captain Charles Clowe was also MIA following a mission over Italy as a bomber pilot.

As one flips through the Concordiensis of 1944 and 1945, faces and names appear with small blurbs stating, “Missing in Action.” These terrible headlines are for men like John J. Quinlan, Class of 1940; William S. Easterly, Class of 1944; and Stanley F. Rice, Class of 1937.

Tragically, on May 19, 1944, the Concordy published an article listing all the names of men who had died while serving their country during World War II. Included in the 28 man list were all the soldiers listed above.

That same Concordy edition had an article entitled, “To Our Dead Heroes.” The members of the Concordy staff all agreed to dedicate the May 19, 1944, edition to their “dead heroes.” The author exclaimed, “(They) are men of America, and as such are not only our heroes, but heroes of all righteous people throughout the world.”

This statement continues to live on in the hearts of all citizens who must shed a tear while they watch their beloved husbands, wives, friends, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters fight for not just a nation, but for freedom and peace. The article continues: “Your life was still young. Little had you yet seen of the world — the world from which you had expected so much. Yours was the greatest sacrifice of all. You could not have given more.”

For all the men from Union who enlisted during World War II, “(they) did not like fighting. However, (they) knew it had to be, and so (they) did not hesitate.”

Some soldiers who enlist may never truly understand why there is fighting and they may not care for it at all, but they all understand that their nation needs them. When the country calls upon them, they respond: yes.

Very few can answer to such a call, but a nation can never give enough thanks to the ones who do.

The author of the 1944 Concordiensis article tells his deceased heroes, “Your spirits will be our inspiration. For your heroism we have only praise; for your deeds we have only appreciation; for your deaths we have only grief, but for you we have ourselves.”

Let us all band together to keep their stories alive and their names immortal.


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