From the ships the roman troops could see the fortifications, knew they were without their cavalry, and could see the warriors and chariots waiting for them on shore. It was also becoming obvious that any attempt to make it to shore would require them to wade through the deep water and into a shower of British spears and arrows. By any means, it was a less than ideal military situation.
All roman legions carried with them an Aquila – a military standard made of an eagle on top of a pole. This Aquila meant everything to the legion, and losing it in battle was the ultimate disgrace. If an Aquila was lost, and the legion was unable to recover it, the legion was considered useless as a fighting force and disbanded in humiliation. It was every soldier’s duty to defend their Aquila with their life.
Faced with the situation, the Romans began to lose their nerve and were not so sure Britain was worth the trouble. Sensing their fear and hesitation, the Aquilifer of the Tenth Legion (the man who carried the standard) knew something had to be done. The 27 year old roman prayed the Legionary’s prayer, “Jupiter Greatest and Best, protect this legion, soldiers all!” Jumping up, he turned and shouted, “Leap forth, soldiers, unless you wish to betray your standard to the enemy. I, at any rate, shall have performed my duty to my country and my general.” And with that he jumped over the side, drew his sword, and with the standard moved toward the shore alone.
The shock over what they just saw, gave way to fear over what may happen. Jolted into action, the Tenth gave out a war cry that startled the Britons, leaped from their ships, and stormed the shore. After a long and hard and fierce fight, the roman legions took the beach that day. And it may have never been if it wasn’t for one man with some guts and the ability to remind the others of what the standard they fought under meant.
The prolife movement is now facing a well fortified beach that must be taken. Our ships are in water that is deep, the beach is filled with fortifications which seem to get stronger by the moment, and there’s little doubt that any trip to the shore will require some of us to take a few arrows. Among cowering soldiers - the words “I personally don’t think it’s ok, but I don’t want to force my opinion on anyone else” on their quivering lips, we stand in a less than ideal military situation. It’s easy to lose our nerve, to hesitate, to just turn the boats around and leave.
But to do that would be to forget what the standard we fight under – Life – really means! The Knights of Columbus have been, and will always be, a champion on the front lines for the fight for Life. It’s something that we should all be very proud and supportive of.
And at this moment in history, a moment in time when the battle seems to not be going our way, may we be reminded of our duty and be jolted into action with a cry of, “Leap forth, soldiers, unless you wish to betray your standard to the enemy. I, at any rate, shall have performed my duty to my country and my God.” And with a thundering battle cry, let us jump into the deep water and lead the charge to take the shore, even if we do it alone.
This is no time for cowards.
(Taken from KC council #4174 Grand Knight's Message)