In 1934, a British magazine told the story of young Prince Edward and a visit he made to a small hospital where thirty-six hopelessly injured and disfigured veterans of the First World War were tended. He stopped at each cot, shook hands with each veteran, and spoke words of encouragement. He was conducted to the exit but observed that he had only met twenty-nine men. At that point he questioned those present, “I understood you had thirty-six patients here. I have only seen twenty-nine.”
The head nurse explained that the other seven were so shockingly disfigured, that for the sake of his own feelings, he had not been taken to see them. The prince insisted that he must see them. He spoke to each of them and thanked them for the great sacrifice they had made and assured each that it would never be forgotten.
Then he turned to the head nurse and said, “There are only six men. Where is the seventh?” He was informed that no one was allowed to see him. Blind, maimed, dismembered, the most hideously disfigured of them all, he was isolated in a room where he would never leave alive. The nurse said to the Prince, “Please don’t ask to see him.” But the Prince could not be dissuaded.
The nurse reluctantly led him into a darkened room. The royal visitor stood there with white face and drawn lips, looking down at what had once been a fine man, but now was a horror. Then the tears broke out, and with lovely impulse, the prince bent down and reverently kissed the cheeks of that broken war hero.
There is one who has stooped far, far lower, to kiss a far, far worse ugliness—not the physical disfigurement of a broken hero whose brokenness called forth reverent gratitude, but the leprous, evil ugliness of corrupt sinners and hard rebels against infinite love!