While I was out in our field working on our crop this morning, I started thinking about the meaning of Memorial Day. I was not there, but the ferocity of the battle for Iwa Jima Island in 1945 has stayed in my mind. 7,000 Marines are buried in the cemetary there, with a plaque with this quatrain:
When you go home
Tell them for us
For your tomorrow
We gave our today
I always remember on Memorial Day two of my friends from the orphan home I was raised in that suffered greatly from this war.
Jack was one of twins. He joined the Navy and, because he was small, was sent into the submarine service. His submarine was lost in 1944. I have often thought of the horror of those on subs trapped under water until they die.
My other memory is of my friend Mike who was captured in Malmady during the Battle of the Bulge. Because he was Jewish he was sent to a concentration camp instead of a POW camp.
I find that the American public today is neither interested in or comprehends the horror of armed conflict and war. Many, particularly those who are better off, look on and say that fighting a war is for others, not for my family.
Then I think of my life, both my father and I were in two world wars. He was a ober lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian army in World War I, in command of 150 hussars. In a battle in the Carpathian Mountains he took shrapnel in his brain. His sadness resulted in an early suicide leaving my 2 younger brothers and I to be sent to an orphan home in the middle of the Great Depression.
On this Memorial Day, we should all sign on for peace rather than war. There is little merit to the wars we have been involved in since WWII. The result of the last 75 years has not been a peaceful world but one of chaos, now suffering from a pandemic.
Think of the resources we have wasted on these interminable wars…
9 thoughts on “In Memoriam”
Quite a few years ago I acquired the complete TV documentary series “Victory at Sea” on DVDs. The footage had not been digitally “restored,” so it’s still kind of crude. The fighting in the Pacific was dreadful, at sea and on land. But even in these “good wars,” the average participant was there via conscription, not as a “patriotic” volunteer. Americans were sucked into these conflicts because other national entities were trying to expand their spheres of influence, the territories they would exploit for natural resources and human labor. Of course, the US had expanded its own “territories” via the War of 1898. In today’s world, war has been shifted as much as possible to killing by remote control, and the USA leads the way in this. This makes US aggression more palatable to the general public, minimizing the number of personnel killed or maimed, along with the constant propaganda to convince us that America is ALWAYS “the Good Guy.” Only a very small percentage of our population has relatives in uniform. And Memorial Day is nothing more than an occasion for going to the beach or a state park–slightly complicated now by the pandemic!–to stuff one’s face and down beer after beer. A sad state of affairs indeed.
I have tried many times to find a reason for the wars that happened during my life time.
I feel that only one is justified, the one we fought to end Hitler’s concentration camps. For the rest only one motto justifies them, business is business.
Well put, traven. War is horrific — even when necessary, as it was in WWII. Enough of war!
So true and such an important reflection at this time.
War is not the answer song… Marvin knew!, and the Irony of his death.
Fascinating history. The memorial poem on Iwo Jima is also profound. I hope we can learn the lessons your generation offers us.
If only we could learn this obvious lesson. I dread the possibility of another expansion into the long drawn out wars over petroleum at a time when we ought to be charging headlong into renewable energy which is politically neutral and knows no borders.
But, Brent, renewable energy is anything but “apolitical”!! Remember “Trump digs coal”?? Layered atop the intransigent resistance to progress inherent in Big Oil we have a mentally deranged creature in the office of the Presidency who seems to believe he is on a “mission from God” (apologies to ‘The Blues Brothers’!) to accelerate the environmental degradation of the whole bleedin’ planet!!