For the War History Buff

Thom Atkinson Soldiers' Inventories

I’m intrigued by a meticulous art project from UK-based photographer Thom Atkinson, in which he obtained and laid out the battle kit of English soldiers over the past millennium. The fiction author in me, as well as the child in me, found the images fascinating. Similarly, my boys were eager to look over my shoulder and view each image as I explained the various pieces of kit.

Perhaps showing signs of age, and revealing the parts of my heart that have been touched by the realities of human conflict (particularly with regard to our pastoral proximity to Ft. Drum), I was surprised to find that some of my explanations interested me far less than they used to. And a few unspoken concepts repulsed me.

Because I knew my sons couldn’t and shouldn’t handle them yet.

I think of the use of hooked polearms, or how a gas mask protects against the effects of nerve gas.

The romance of war has certainly faded, though the call to protect and defend has not.

Moving through the various images, I was reminded that these kits were necessary because of our rebellion to God in the first place. And further, I noted how many of the conflicts had purely humanistic motives (which could be said of any conflict, to be sure). One doesn’t need to know much of the Crusades to understand its fundamental atrociousness.

For the innocent blood we’ve spilt, we’ll give answer to; for the innocent we defended, our blood is its own testament.

ch: