As she tromped through the field, a battlefield, where the lifeless and wounded warriors lay, the now-famous nurse—Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) —tried to help the living while other personnel carried away the dead. The time is the 1850’s; the war is the Russian-British Crimean War (1853-1856); the battle is the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. Alas, The Trooper himself was one of the slain. Ms. Nightingale burst into tears when she saw this soldier dead on the ground, for she heard of his legendary bravery from previous battles.
The Russian musket fire killed our Trooper and even his beloved horse. A couple of bugles lay on the ground amidst the fallen soldiers—no longer to summon the troops to battle. Florence Nightingale and the other nurses had to hurdle the lifeless bodies to reach the wounded—although often mortally wounded. Nurse Nightingale told another nurse, “Such carnage! I’m ready for peace, so we can return to dealing with colds and sprained ankles.” The other nurse agreed, ”Our calling is tough. But it’s really becoming modern science.”
The last round of fire in The Battle of Balaclava got The Trooper; he feared the end was near during this bloody battle. At first, it looked like either side could have claimed a pyrrhic victory. But the British blundered with a final cavalry charge, immortalized in Tennyson’s, “Charge of the Light Brigade,” that wiped out many British cavalry. Ottoman Turk losses were heavy too.
A few Turkish allies lay near The Trooper—some clinging to life. One Turk told Nurse Nightingale about The Trooper’s bravery. “The Trooper seemed like a man possessed. He kept charging toward the Russian lines, dodging many a bullet until the last one felled his horse, then him. We didn’t think he’d last as long as he did.” Nurse Nightingale wept.
No country had more to lose in the Crimean War than the Ottoman Empire—now known as modern Turkey, a smaller but stronger country. Long known as “The Sick Man of Europe,” the Ottoman Empire’s decline was well under way. World War I, some 60 years late, finished the Ottoman Empire’s demise—only to be reborn as the first secular Moslem country in history—Turkey—through the leadership of Attaturk in the 1920’s. Unfortunately, Turkey has experienced “democratic backsliding” under President Tayyip Erdogan in recent years.
Now we have Indonesia as the second predominantly Moslem secular country. It has a constitution that protects non-Moslems, and it’s even had the Confucian Church of Indonesia since the late 19th century through the efforts of Chinese immigrants. Indonesia is also the home of the Jaringan Islam Liberal, directed by Ulil Abshar-Abdallah.
Thanks to the noble Turk soldier and the Battle of Balaclava and Nurse Florence Nightingale, The Trooper is not forgotten and never was alone. Nurse Nightingale even sent a message by telegraph about the tale of The Trooper to her hospital administrator back home in England—just in case she didn’t make it back, but she did.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMyMS-p9YW0 “The Trooper,” by Iron Maiden (with lyrics).