Sometimes we forget what others have already suffered in order to maintain our Western values.
Rarely is the 1565 Great Siege of Malta mentioned. Hardly ever do visitors to the island dwell on such an ancient and forgotten incident....
In late May 1565, the invasion force arrived at the island. The knights awaiting them enjoyed good intelligence of their plans and had asked for assistance from the Christian armies of European nations. Every kingdom spurned their request - other than Sicily, which said that if the knights held out, help would eventually come.
The once-proud Ottoman force scrambled in disarray for its ships, pursued across the island, cut down and picked off at every step. Thousands died and the waters of St Paul's Bay ran red.
Of the 40,000 troops that had set sail in the spring from Constantinople, only some ten thousand made it home. Behind them they had left a scene of utter devastation.
Almost the entire garrison commanded by Jean Parisot de Valette had perished. Now, after 112 days of siege, the ragged handful of survivors limped through the blitzed wreckage of their lines.
Malta was saved, for Europe and Christianity. The Knights of St John had won.
I have stood in that tiny chapel recessed in the walls of Fort St Elmo, the very place where defenders took their last holy sacrament on a June night long ago. We owe those knights.
Their sacrifice was immense, their effect on our lives more profound than we may know.