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Memorial Day 2019
By James Christner
Memorial Day, 2019: Confederate Cemetery, Elmira, New York
Imagine the resolve with which the young men, whose graves lie around us here, marching to the consolidating cadence of beating drums, were carried away and thrust into a terrifying landscape of destruction, disillusionment, and death.
Imagine as well the innumerable widely dispersed graves of comrades in arms, parents, wives, children, and other friends and relatives traumatized by the deaths of these young men so far from home.
War is the great deceiver of the naïve and overconfident. Hidden behind a veil of righteousness, lurks a morass of unrelenting destruction and killing of such ghastly and excruciating horror that men are driven out of their wits.
If such is the evil of war, why has humankind not put an end to it?
War is profitable; some soldiers eager, all expendable. In an astounding declaration of manifest hubris, Henry Kissinger reportedly referred to military men as "dumb, stupid animals to be used" as pawns for foreign policy (p. 194).
War proponents are able to coax the citizenry into war only with its consent.
Henry Thoreau lamented: "There are thousands hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."
So I encourage you to strike a terminal blow at the root of war by diligently seeking almighty truth and with it smother the seductive but delusional clamoring for war that so devastates lives and brings penury and ruin to the land. Herbert Hoover warned: "As war sanctifies murder, so it sanctifies the lesser immoralities of lies."
"We can never herd the world onto the paths of righteousness with the dogs of war."
Wendell Berry shall have the last word:
"It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have begun our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings."
- Henry Kissinger: The Final Days by Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein
- Henry Thoreau: Walden
- Herbert Hoover: Freedom Betrayed edited by George H. Nash
- Wendell Berry: Standing by Words
James Chirstner served in the Navy from 1967-1970 - from 1967 to 1968 he was on the
USS Rockbridge APA-228 and the USS Francis Marion LPA -249. He is a member of VVAW.