Glorifying Peace Instead of War
AS TOLD BY DOROTHY HORLE
In 1919, I was born into an Italian Catholic family in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A. My parents never attended church services, but they did send my two sisters and me. I was impressed by imposing churches with their splendid architecture, statues, and pomp.
AS THE years went by, I lost interest in Catholicism. The church put no emphasis on the Bible, which my father revered and read regularly. I was troubled by church bulletins naming donors and the amounts that they contributed. There were also many rumors about wayward priests. By age 15, I was no longer a practicing Catholic. This gave me more time to pursue training in art.
A Career in Art
In 1940, when I was 21 years old, I married William Horle, a young man who enjoyed drawing anything related to the military—airplanes, soldiers, guns, ships. Bill was pleased that I was an artist, and he bought me my first set of oil paints. I began to learn the techniques of the old masters.
After about two years of marriage, Bill took up the hobby of creating military miniatures out of lead. Toy soldiers? By no means! He desired to produce genuine works of art. Other craftsmen worked in plastic, wood, or plaster, but lead fit in nicely with Bill’s training as a machinist.
He would design a figure, construct a mold, and then cast the figure in lead. In time, he became quite skillful in assembling cast parts, soldering, filing, and polishing. He later shifted from plaster-of-Paris molds to molds made of dental compound. That allowed him to work in finer detail.
After each solid metal piece was finished, it was my job to complete it. Through exhaustive research, we found descriptions of old military uniforms—down to the buttons, braiding, rank badges, and colors.
With the help of magnification, I would apply oils and paints formulated to adhere to metal. This helped bring our figurines to life. Out of our small cellar in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we created American Indians, Civil War soldiers, U.S. Marines, Napoleonic horses and riders, Egyptian Mamluks, Algerian Zouaves, and others.
Then Bill received an invitation from the U.S. Marine Corps to create a representation of the first horse-mounted marine detachment in Peking (now Beijing), China, prior to 1939. We worked unceasingly on it, and in 1954 we presented it to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Some years later, President Lyndon Johnson asked if it could be moved to the White House. Of course, we consented.
We never sold our figurines, but Bill gave away hundreds. We were favorably mentioned in many books on model soldiers. Our work was displayed at the World’s Fair in 1965 at Flushing Meadow, in Queens, New York. Museums asked for our models. Bruce Catton, a U.S. Civil War historian, used several of our dioramas and figurines to illustrate his books.
Questions About Life Grew
About the time I turned 40, though, things began to change for me. I began to wonder about God. On a Christmas Day, five Catholic children burned to death in a house fire while their parents were in church. I pondered, ‘How could God allow that to happen on his birthday?’ I saw a book that recounted the atrocities of the Jewish Holocaust. These and other terrible events in the world prompted me to ask, ‘Where is God? He isn’t doing what he is supposed to do!’
From my father’s early example, I felt that the answer must be in the Bible. So I went to the Catholic rectory near our home in Philadelphia and made an appointment with a priest to discuss the Bible. I waited and waited, but he did not appear. Every week for four weeks, I made that trip to the rectory but never had one discussion with the priest.
One evening, in sad desperation, I looked up to the heavens and prayed: “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know which religion you’re associated with, but I know you’re there. Please let me know you!” A short time later, Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door.
Occasionally, I had seen the Witnesses parking their cars, climbing out, and going to different doors. Although I knew nothing about them or why they called, I had been intrigued by their mission.
That day in 1961 when the Witnesses called, I was depressed because I wasn’t getting anywhere in my search for God. As I scrubbed the front door of my house, a middle-aged woman by the name of Marge Brion climbed the porch steps and greeted me. I never turned around to acknowledge her presence. But as she spoke about the earth being transformed into a beautiful paradise, I hung on every word. Finally she asked, “Are you listening to me?”
I repeated everything she had said, including the Bible verse she quoted from Isaiah 55:11. Then I turned around, grabbed her by the arm, and said, “Come on in!” She gave me my first Bible and the Bible study aid From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained. She also offered me a regular Bible discussion—the very kind of study I had hoped that the Catholic Church would give me.
With two sessions a week, I made rapid progress in my study of the Bible. In a short time, it was clear that I had found the truth. Learning the name of God, Jehovah, was a very emotional experience for me. (Psalm 83:18) Imagine—this was the God I had longed to know from childhood! I also learned that his Son, Jesus Christ, is not a mystical part of a triune godhead. (John 14:28) Before long, I was attending Christian meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses and longing to be a full-time proclaimer of the Bible’s message.
Making Important Choices
Now my biggest test was before me. Would I break up the artistic team of William and Dorothy Horle? How could I serve the God of peace and his Son, the Prince of Peace, while glorifying war in art? (Isaiah 9:6) Did not Jehovah promise that he would make “wars to cease to the extremity of the earth”? (Psalm 46:9) So why perpetuate something that God would end? And did not Isaiah prophesy that God’s people would “beat their swords into plowshares” and learn war no more? (Isaiah 2:4) I thought and prayed long and hard. “I can’t paint them anymore!” was my decision. On April 25, 1964, I symbolized my dedication to Jehovah God by water baptism.
Bill had often said how sorry he was that one day we would have to part in death. When I began to study the Bible, I would tell him: “Bill, we can live forever in God’s new world!” (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:4, 5) He thought that I was crazy. When I explained why I could no longer in good conscience paint military figurines, he became angry and threatened to leave me. Later he did.
Bill produced military figurines by himself for many years. But he didn’t move far away, and he was always supportive of me and our son, Craig, who had been born in 1942. In 1988, Bill returned, and we remained together for ten years until his death.
In the meantime, in 1966, I realized my goal of becoming a pioneer. Since then, I have never looked back. I had the privilege of studying the Bible with my older sister. She accepted its teachings, and she remains an active Witness to this day. My father listened to the Bible’s message and within two weeks began attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall. At 75 years of age, he was baptized, and he continued faithful to God until his death at 81. My mother also accepted Jehovah as her God, although she died before making her dedication. She was nearly 94.
Over the years, I have been greatly blessed by Jehovah, the God of peace. Now at 81, I am still a pioneer, although I have trouble getting around. I feel as did the apostle Paul, who wrote: “I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who imparted power to me, because he considered me faithful by assigning me to a ministry.” (1 Timothy 1:12) What a glorious ministry it has been! Dozens with whom I studied the Bible have made sacrifices of their own to serve our merciful God.
I am truly sorry that my whole family has not responded to Bible truth. Maybe in time more will. But in my case Jesus’ words have proved true that his disciples would “get a hundredfold now in this period of time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children.” (Mark 10:30) Indeed, Jehovah has made me rich. What an honor and a joy to trade fame and war for God and peace!
[Picture on page 22]
With General L. C. Shepherd, Jr., in 1954
Defense Dept. photo (Marine Corps)
[Picture on page 23]
[Picture on page 24]
At 81, I have been a pioneer for over 30 years