A Waldorf teacher's presentation on Martinmas & Veteran's Day! November 10 2016
The feast of St. Martin coincides with Veterans’ Day. This is no accident because St. Martin of Tours started his life as a conscripted soldier in the Roman army. He was, even in his youth, remarkable and he rose in rank to a leadership position quickly.
Legend has it that he was much beloved by the men he commanded in the army. He tended to ride behind his men instead of leading with bravado to ensure that no soldiers were left behind in danger or in a wounded state. He is, therefore, a golden symbol of the bonds that form among military men and women.
His most remarkable act was while leading his men to safety inside the walls of a citadel on a harsh wintry evening. He rode behind, as usual in these situations. The gates of the city were about to close and anyone left behind would sleep out in the cold before the walls because the siege going on made leaving the gates open a danger.
His men hurried forward and all were within the gates, when a beggar in tattered clothing approached Martin on his horse and pleaded for help because he was freezing and had inadequate clothing. Martin unhesitatingly took off his big, heavy, woolen cloak, drew his sword and sliced his cloak into two parts. He gave one to the beggar and kept one himself. After wrapping himself in the half cloak, he turned to make sure the beggar was all right but he had vanished into thin air.
Martin was locked out of the city because of his kindness and curled up to sleep on the ground for the night. A vision came to him in his sleep and the beggar was transformed into a Being of Light. He told Martin that his way was blessed because he could love a beggar and risk his own well-being for one so lowly. The Light Being told him that his deed was seen in heaven and that all there rejoiced in the warm nature of his loving heart.
Later on, during his career, on the battlefield on the evening before a decisive battle, Martin entered the tent of his superior and addressed his very agitated general. He handed him his sword and said, “I can kill no more. I must devote my life to God.”
The general was not amused and he knew he needed Martin to prevail the next morning because his men loved him so. They would fight in the way necessary because of Martin’s leadership.
After trying to persuade him, the general, in anger had Martin arrested and chained with a threat of court martial and then to be tried as a traitor for his insubordination.
When next the morning dawned, the general was sorry for his anger of the night before but was still perplexed at Martin’s sudden refusal to do what he did so very well.
To the general’s amazement, scouts came in to report that a surrendering brigade was on its way from the opposing army. Moved, the general understood that somehow Martin’s resignation was linked to this sudden relief of his anxiety about the coming battle.
The general released Martin with forgiveness and thanks. Martin went on to follow his vocation and to found an order of monks.
His life is a fair tribute to the sacrifice and suffering endured by our soldiers around the world.