Once upon a time, during the days when Count Gut de Dampierre was Lord of Namur, a mighty citadel on the Meuse River, a certin citizen from Jallet stole a cow from a farmer from Ciney. He sold the cow from a farmer from Ciney. He sold the cow on the market at Andennes, where the victim recognized his stolen property. The latter promptly filed a complaint with the bailiff of Condroz. And, even though Andennes did not come under the jurisdiction of Condroz, this bailiff meted out swift justice and the thief was hanged.

This angered Count who destroyed Ciney, whereupon the citizen’s army of Cinney burned down Jallet. The Lord thn called hid people to arms while the citizens of Condroz called upon a neighboring Prince-Bishop for support. Soon castles and peasant huts went up in flames, harvests were trampled, women were raped, homes were plunderedÉin short: it was time of great and glorious heroism.

The cow, in the meantime, was long since forgotten. In fact, no one knew exactly anymore what the fight was all about.

What came over people in those days ­ this happened in the late 1300s ­ to again and again use violent means to settle their differences? The answer to this question may well come from Sieur de Beaufort, one of the participants in the battle. “I would gladly give you the answer, if I only knew. But a soldier doesn’t asl questions. When my country calls me, I respond: “Present!”, and do my duty. Patriotism demands it”.

Have learn anything since then? Who still remembers a certain Archduke whose assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 set off World War I? Does anyone still remember the various reasons George W. gave us to grad us into the costly and devastating debacle in Iraq?

Was it a cow? All I know is this: we still are burying heroes who die for the Glory of God and Fatherland s in the days of yore.

Jan Gleysteen • Goshen