From the Ashes of War – A Pathway to Peaceful Reconstructions Now and Forever
Lessons from history
The lessons of Reconstruction are often poorly understood in the history books, but their repercussions still reverberate today, especially with regard to the role of government and civil society in post-conflict societies. The United States attempted to reshape the American South, on a shoestring budget and with little time. At the same time, it tried to promote democracy in a post-conflict society. While no one disputes the need for external assistance, many lessons from the reconstruction process demonstrate the perils of trying to impose democracy on a weak and undemocratic society.
Taking lessons from history is one way to ensure that we learn from history and avoid making the same mistakes. Many military efforts fail because they are based on half measures, and Reconstruction is no exception. Even though the Compromise of 1877 recognized the end of slavery, it still entrenched Black inequality. While it showed promise at the beginning of Reconstruction, the difficult steps needed to win peace were not thought through.
Memorializing war crimes
War crimes, and the events that lead to them, have long shaped collective memory. These collective memories can span centuries, millennia, or even eons. For example, Muslims remember the battle with crusaders at the Horns of Hattin, Jews remember the biblical threat Amalek, Irish people remember the rising against the British, Bosnians will never forget the atrocities of Srebrenica, and Jews and Germans must never forget the Holocaust.
Lessons from charnel houses
The lessons from charnel houses can be applied to peace-building efforts now and into the future. In Japan, for example, local governments have been trying to find the bodies of those killed by the atomic bomb, and they have made significant progress in this regard. Many bodies remain unidentified, but a lot of them have been reinterred in private or public cemeteries. The city of Yokosuka has been gathering the remains of these victims since 1947. In addition to serving as a memorial site, the city has also built a memorial hall on the site.
Lessons from the Isonzo Front
The Italians launched a series of attacks on the Austro-Hungarians during the spring and summer of 1917. The situation in the Austro-Hungarian-held area became fragile and the Italians were able to advance to the Isonzo. The Italians had gained some territorial gains against the Austro-Hungarians, but they were soon overwhelmed by the Austrians. Austrian forces began a massive bombardment of the Italians’ positions on October 24, and the Italian army was rendered a rout by the afternoon. Demoralized and war-weary territorial troops began throwing down their arms and retreating to the Piave River. By the end of the war, the Italians were unable to hold their lines and the Isonzo River.
The Battles of the Isonzo River, which are now in Slovenia, were fought along the border with Italy. The rugged terrain of the area provided a huge advantage to Austria over the Italians. Austria held the edge over the Italians until the Italian army launched its first attack on June 23. The Italian army attempted to cross the heights beyond the river, but was repelled by the Austrians’ superiority.
Lessons from the Walk of Peace
Lessons from the Walk of Peace teach children about peace, forgiveness, and working together. This consumable workbook includes 30 two-page lessons. Lessons cover topics from being peaceful with your enemies to finding peace with God. These lessons are based on Scripture passages and can be completed in as little as six weeks or as long as a year. The book includes suggestions for further activities and questions for reflection.
The Walk of Peace begins in Nova Gorica and ends in Trieste, a city on the Adriatic coast. The trail is a mixture of easy, moderate, and challenging sections, primarily on existing mountain trails. A walkers’ guidebook is available in English, Slovenian, Italian, and German.