Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In Remembrance

From Chris Hedges' "War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning."

"When Ernie Pyle, the American war correspondent in World War II, was killed on the Pacific island of Ie Shima in 1945, a rough draft of a column was found on his body. He was preparing it for release upon the end of the war in Europe. He had done much to promote the myth of the warrior and the heroism of soldiering, but by the end he seemed to tire of it all:

"But there are many of the living who have burned
into their brains forever the unnatural sight of cold dead men
scattered over the hillsides and in the ditches along the high rows 
of hedge throughout the world.

Dead men by mass production - in one country after another -
month after month and year after year. Dead men in
winter and dead men in summer.

Dead men in such familiar promiscuity that they
become monotonous.

Dead men in such monstrous infinity that you come to
almost hate them. These are the things that you at home need
not even try to understand. To you at home they are columns
of figures, or he is a near one who went away and just
didn't come back. You didn't see him lying so grotesque
and pasty beside the gravel road in France.

We saw him, saw him by the multiple thousands.

That's the difference.


Toby said...

There is a fine line between remembrance and glorification. All of our politicians and much of our population have crossed that line. There is very little remembrance left of the senselessness of it all or of the determination we used to hear, "Never again!"

The Mound of Sound said...

In a war studies course I did a few months ago we explored the change in the nature of warfare from the mid-19th to late-20th century. Over the course of that century there was a disturbing progression. At the outset, fatalities from warfare were 80% military, 20% civilian. One hundred years later and those ratios had been reversed.

Today death from warfare is far more likely to be civilian than military, a grim reality our remembrance selectively ignores.

Toby said...

Have you noticed how frequently news media uses the word hero? Now, we all know of people doing heroic deeds but merely putting on a uniform isn't one of them; been there, done that. Heroism is something special, like those who ran into that burning plane in Richmond to save injured passengers. What the media is doing when it says hero is manipulating us to accept the militarization of our internal and external security.

Anonymous said...

My Dad did not give a damn for veterans for they had yet to be invented.
Neither did my uncles who also served at the 'sharp end" of conflict during WWII.
They stood in awe at the survivors of WWI on ARMASTICE DAY where they remembered the slaughter of two world wars.
The words lest we forget had a different meaning for them ; far from the military circus act of today.
Our forfathers wished to avoid wars whereas our present politicians wish to condone it.

Perhaps "rememberence" day applies to those that actually remember, hence the move to "veterans day"