Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dies Irae

I post this every Memorial Day. I don't feel quite the same level of suppressed anger this year as I did in the "Support the Troops" Dubya Years when this weekend became a pep-rally for wars that most U.S. citizens were utterly indifferent to other than as entertainment. But, still.

I have little or no hope that I can ever change the way this "holiday" is celebrated. There will be parades and movie festivals. Warplanes will flyover baseball stadiums. Flags will wave. People will "thank" someone in a uniform for service that was neither done for them nor has profited the serviceman or the civilian.

Few, very few, will visit a war cemetery and ponder the reasons we seem incapable of not making more war dead.

But I will continue to post this every year and hope.

It seems to me that the VERY best thing for the majority of Americans would be to think of this Memorial Day not as time reserved for barbeques and softball in the park, but as the time it took a 19-year-old private to bleed out, alone amid the dying crowd in the grass before the wall at Fredricksburg.The time it took a husband and father to convulse his way into death from typhus in the tent hospital outside Santiago de Cuba.

The time that the battalion runner, a former mill hand from Utica, New York, spent in a shell hole in the Argonne staring at the rest of his life drizzling out of his shattered legs.

The time it took for the jolting trip down the Apennines to the CCP, unfelt by the father of three because of the jagged rip in his gut wall that killed him that morning.The time required to freeze a high school kid from Corvallis, Oregon, to the parched, high ground above the Yalu River.

The time it took for the resupply bird to come to FSB Albany for the plastic bag that contained what had been a young man from the Bronx who would never see the Walt Frazier he loved play again.

The time taken up by the last day in the life of a professional officer whose fiance will never understand why she died in a "vehicular accident" in the middle of a street in Taji.I've been proud to be a soldier, and don't kid myself that there will be a day when the killer ape "studies war no more". But the modern view of war as video entertainment for the masses sickens me. Every single fucking human being needs to have it driven into his or her forehead with a steel nail that every single day in every single war some person dies a stupid, meaningless death that snuffs out a world in a moment. That those empty eyes zipped inside a bag or covered by a bloody blanket were the windows to an entire universe, once.

That the price we pay for "forging our national will" is paid in the unlived futures of those we kill and those of us who die to make it so.

Maybe then we'd be sure of what we want to achieve before we open the doors of the Temple of Janus.


Talyssa said...

This exactly.

"Every single fucking human being needs to have it driven into his or her forehead with a steel nail that every single day in every single war some person dies a stupid, meaningless death that snuffs out a world in a moment."

Meaningful post, thanks for sharing :)

Syrbal/Labrys said...

Thank, Chief. I have to stay away from people on this weekend; my slim reserves of control might burst if I have to hear one more twitty woman of a certain age intone "Oh, yes, now we can wear white shoes again."

And any time I go more than a week w/o hearing something from my youngest in Afghanistan, I am on explosive ground anyhow...

BigFred said...

I drive past the Fredericksburg Battlefield every day on my way to work. This really brought it home for me.

Ael said...

Gwynne Dyer says we are getting more peaceful.

FDChief said...

Ael: I'd tend to agree in the large, inter-nation conflicts sense; we haven't had a really big international war outside the Iraq vicinity in the past 40 years.

But, frankly, you can get killed just as dead in some senseless border skirmish as in the Battle of the Somme. It's not so much that the wars are there, it's that the attitude towards the wars - the Old Lie, dulce et decorum est pro patria morie - still holds sway.

Anonymous said...

um, "pro patria mori"

Anytime you need to sharpen up your Latin . . . . :)

WRT our peaceful, blissful times, per Ael's link:

"Then there is Somalia, the world’s only failed state, where 20 years of violent anarchy may finally be drawing to an end. But the scale of the fighting rarely has risen to a level that would qualify what has been happening there as a full-scale war."

I don't know who Dyer is, or his reputation, or want to google him up.

From this I can ascertain he's a thoroughly piece of work, unsuitable for any kind of information about our world.

War by proxy. An easy way to have our fun without getting our dainties soiled or citizens killed off. Just pay the wogs to kill each other, for whatever reason we wish, even for our entertainment, just like the Latins of old enjoyed gladiators hacking each other to bits.

And God forbid fat-assed, lazy, shitty journalists like Dyer get off their flabby bottoms to do actual journalism.

Did I mention I was reading this?

"The Islamic Courts Union -- and the first period of relative peace to come to Mogadishu -- lasted just 6 months. While US diplomats in the region privately warned their superiors of potentially dire consequences of an Ethiopian invasion and sought to identify paths to reconciliation between the ICU and the internationally recognized transitional government, the Bush administration's national security team was gearing up for a war to take down the ICU. By late 2006, Ethiopian forces were massing along various points of the Somali border. Although US diplomats expressed concern over the buildup, they seemed unaware that the US military was deeply involved in it."

"Dirty Wars", 2013, Jeremy Scahill, pg. 206.


Anonymous said...

oh crap

"he's a thoroughly crappy piece of work"

But I suppose that would be apparent from the context of the whole.

I might add, much of the information Scahill uses in his book comes via Wikileaks and Bradley Manning, thank you very much.