The greatest writers, philosophers, and statesmen of all time have made brilliant comments about the futility of war, but my late father had them all beat.
Many years ago he and I were watching a Memorial Day ceremony on TV when my dad, a World War II veteran, slowly shook his head.
“You know,” he said, “war is such bullshit.”
I think that’s sums it up perfectly.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day when we honor the soldiers who died defending this nation. All around the country people will lay wreaths, blow taps, and wave the flag.
There will be talk of never forgetting those who made the ultimate sacrifice, politicians will crank out the sound bites, and everyone will go to barbecues.
But you just know that sooner or later the chicken hawks, the war profiteers, and their idiotic followers will start screeching about invading some global hell zone, taking us down the road to yet another unwinnable war, and the body bags will start filling up all over again.
Some people will say now isn’t the time to talk about this kind of thing, that Memorial Day is a time to salute fallen soldiers.
Screw those people.
Memorial Day is the perfect time to discus this never-ending lie that we keep telling ourselves. War is about money, period. If you want war to stop, start drafting rich people and you’ll see peace break out with lightning speed.
When I was a kid my mother took my brother and me to Radio City Music Hall to see Gone With the Wind on the big screen.
Swords into Plowshares
My mother was this movie’s biggest fan bar none. She actually started the audience applauding when Clark Gable made his first appearance standing at the bottom of a flight of stairs.
At the time I was quite embarrassed, of course, but now it is one of my dearest memories of my mom.
I haven’t seen the picture in its entirety since then, but a few years back I watched a couple of minutes of a TV broadcast of the movie.
the scene following the Battle of Gettysburg where soldiers’ relatives in Atlanta are anxiously waiting for the casualty lists to see if their loved ones are still alive.
As copies of the list are distributed to the crowd, the air starts to fill with the cries and wailing of family members who have lost a son, brother, or husband.
The leader of a military band has apparently lost his own child and though this man is rocked to his core, he turns and orders the musicians to start playing “Dixie.”
Young people are being killed and maimed by the thousands, cities are destroyed, and entire generations are scarred beyond repair.
And how do we respond? We strike up the band. We cover pain with pageantry and nothing ever changes.
As the band plays on the camera tracks in on a young boy who is crying as he plays the flute. It’s a moving, powerful scene that made my mother burst into tears at the very mention of it and it perfectly illustrates my father’s point.
War is such bullshit.