Paying due respects to deadly weapon's creator

January 27, 2014 

Reference the Jan. 14 article on Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the AK-47 assault rifle.

Mikhail Kalashnikov was a tank sergeant in the Russian Army in World War II. However, as indicated by the rank shoulder boards on his uniform in his picture, he attained the rank and status of warrant officer.

I found it surprising that Kalashnikov felt himself responsible for people's deaths, but I also see clearly that he created the weapon to protect his country and could not be blamed for the actions of other people. "It's the politicians who are to blame for failing to come to an agreement and resorting to violence," Kalashnikov said.

War is a killing business and the nature of war is what is so inhumane about it. Wars are fought between nations and people of the nations follow the dictates of their national leaders, even though they do not always trust the judgments of their leaders.

In the war in which Mikhail Kalashnikov fought, nearly 8 million of his military comrades lost their lives. That was more than all the the Allied forces combined. It was also nearly twice more than all of the Axis powers combined. The death toll does not include Russian civilian casualties. The Soviet Union paid an exceptionally high price in what Russians remember as "The Great Patriotic War."

The AK-47 killed thousands of Americans in Vietnam, including some I personally knew. I have fired the AK-47 myself and found it to be an excellent weapon. "Symbol of creative genius," appropriately describes it.

Mikhail Kalashnikov, with his recent death, deserves to be respectfully remembered. After all, when his country and our county both fought in a global conflict, we were both on the same side. Lest we forget.

Frank B. Austin

O'Fallon

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