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Friday, December 9

The Blackhorse Prayer

On a Easter Sunday 1969, Gordon Livingston, M.D.
passed among the guests at a change-of command ceremony in Vietnam for Colonel Patton and handed eveyone copies of something he had written the night before. He called it "The Blackhorse Prayer."

God, our Heavenly Father, hear our prayer. We acknowledge our shortcomings and ask thy help in being better soldiers for thee. Grant us, O Lord, those things we need to do they work more effectively. Give us this day a gun that will fire ten thousands rounds a second, a napalm that will burn for a week. Help us to bring death and destruction wherever we go, for we do it in thy name and therefore it is meet and just. We thank thee for this war, fully mindful that, while it is not the best of all wars, it is better than no war at all. We remember that Christ said "I come not to send peace, but a sword," and we pledge ourselves in all our works to be like Him. Forget not the least of thy children as they hide from us in the jungles; bring them under our merciful hand that we may end their suffering. In all things, O God, assit us, for we do our noble work in the knowledge that only with they help can we avoid the catastrophe of peace that threatens us ever. All of which we ask in the name of thy son, George Patton. Amen.

There were some high-ranking people there, including General Creighton Abrams, the commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam. There were also a lot of journalists. One of them ask Patton if that was the official unit prayer.

Dr. Gordon Livingston was arrested and an investigation was launched to see if he was a candidate for court-martial. They decided against it. It would have been inconvenient to try a West Point graduate who could testify firsthand about war crimes. So they sent him home as "an embarrassment to the command." He subsequently resigned from the army and worked with many others to end the war. They were not immediately successful. It took four years and 25,000 addtional American deaths before the last U.S. soldiers finally lelt.

Twenty-six years later Dr. Livingston went back to Vietnam, accompanied by seventeen menbers of his old unit as well as his son Michael, whom he had found there as an infant in an orphanage during the war. Nearly all traces of them having been there had been obliterated.

"As I stood on the site of that 1969 change-of-command cermony I remembered the anger and the doubt and the fear I felt on that Easter Sundy when, with the help of a prayer, I was reborn."

Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.

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