Tuesday, May 31, 2005

In Memoriam, a post-Memorial Day note

As we move away from Memorial Day I link to a thoughtful, from-the-heart post at Silflay Hraka. It is not by Bigwig, but Blakavar. I don't know who these two characters from Watership Down represent, but they are not as flip as names might suggest.

Too often, we write off war as the worst thing that could happen, and the sacrifice of our troops as a burden that should not have to be borne. Well, I've news for you. Troops know the risk, and at least in a volunteer military, bear the burden. The risk is death; the reward is a feeling of having repaid the country a debt that was owed from birth, and the knowledge that one's life, if spent, is not wasted but invested in a better future. If war is basically evil, then the lives of men who fight are essentially thrown away no matter what the cause. But if war is just another of man's enterprises, then a wise war is funded with well invested sacrifice. Evaluation of a moral question of such magnitude - whether a particular war is wise or not - requires that we put aside our partisan squabbling, and take the long view, and take seriously all arguments.

This is by no means an anti-war rant. In fact it is exactly the opposite, a personal litany of tributes to all who have touched the heart and mind of the writer as he recalls the memory of each of them, ending with that famous part of Henry V which includes...From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remembered- We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition...

Having posted yesterday's credo, I feel it is important that I complete my personal record with something indicating that I am not blind to the realities of war and its deep importance to human behavior. I have always known that righteous indignation animates everyday people more than any other emotion. And how can we express righteous indignation any better as a population than by waging war?

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