Have Courage; Take A Stand


On May 7, 1915, in the Irish Sea, a German submarine, the U-20, attacked the passenger liner Lusitania. What happened next made history and influenced the United States' decision to enter WW1.

What is little known about the sinking of the Lusitania is what took place below the surface of the sea just moments before the U-boat commander, Kapitanleutnant Schwieger, gave the order to fire the torpedo that would send the passenger ship to the bottom of the ocean.

One crew member, Charles Voegele, made the decision to stand for something.

On board the U-20, the Lusitania was identified as an ocean liner with the famous Cunard lines. The captain gave the order to ready the torpedo, but Voegele, the U-20's quartermaster, refused to pass the order to the torpedo room. In what was considered an act of treason during wartime, Voegele turned to his captain and said, "I'm sorry, sir, but I cannot bring myself to destroy a ship with innocent women and children on board. Such an act is barbaric."

Voegele was relieved of his duties and another member of the crew announced the order, and the torpedo was launched. The subsequent explosions sent 1,200 men, women and children to a watery grave in just 18 minutes. When the U-boat returned to Germany, Voegele was sent to prison for his refusal to take part in the tragedy.

On Monday evening, millions of television viewers watched as basketball fans participated in destruction and violence outside Staples Arena in Los Angeles following the Lakers' championship game. News cameras captured images of young people breaking windows, burning cars and looting.

Sometimes young people avoid taking responsibility for destructive decisions because they say they were caught up in a moment, or that everybody around them was participating.

Young Americans must understand that there will be times in their lives when the people around them are making bad choices, and that they can make a difference if they take a stand for what's right. In some cases, taking a stand is as simple as walking away from a group that's out of control. This may happen on a playground, at a party, in the backseat of a car, or even in a submarine. They must recognize, as Charles Voegele did, that some acts are barbaric.

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