Archive for the ‘war’ Category

I’ve discovered that there seems to be some confusion about the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. That fact confuses me, frankly, though their previous designations would be much more unclear.

Memorial Day, which falls on the last Monday of May, commemorates the men and women who died while serving in the American military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

Whereas: Read the rest of this entry »

I associate the raking of falling leaves with Veterans Day. Some of this is at the mundane level. One November 10, I raked the leaves so well, and then the next day, more dropped so that it appeared that I had made no effort at all. It seems that the leaves all fall almost at once. I can tell it was last Thursday in the front of my house, with leaves covering up half of the windshield of the car.

The linkage, however, is also more subtle. One rakes the leaves early on, and one feels a sense of accomplishment. In that second and third pass over the same terrain, though, the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Is it REALLY worth the effort to go over that ground again?

War must feel like that. In the beginning, everyone, at least everyone who’s in charge of executing the war, must have a sense of the rightness of their duty. As the war drags on, though, do doubts settle in?

I always wondered about extremely long wars. In year 37 of the 100 Years’ War, do the leaders remember what the point was. By year 73, all the leaders are most certainly dead, and all there is to hold onto is an abstraction. “For England!” or whatnot.

I came across this video about World War I, the end of which we are celebrating its 90th anniversary today. It’s not all gunfire, as the first minute or two might suggest, but has music of the period.

As you may know, WWI was so awful that it was thought that it must certainly be the “war to end all wars.” The League of Nations was formed and the world lived peacefully ever after, or so the script read. Here’s a list of wars most of them since 1918, with casualties when available.

I guess we’ll keep on trying for peace, regardless of our inability to achieve it.

I went to a talk by Rex Smith of the Times union newspaper who was talking about “Communication for Citizenship: How Journalism Can Help Sustain Society’s Progress.” One of the points he made was that if he were hiring a new reporter, he’d rather get someone who understand nuance rather than someone who was just a good writer. As the chair of the Education for Journalism Committee of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, he is seeking to develop the same thing in young potential readers.
But, the last questioner (I) asked, “How do you teach ‘nuance’? It seems that so many institutions in the past 20 years are polarized, from Congress to elements of the press.” On the hiring side at least, Rex talked about looking for intelligence, people who can look at the whole picture.

Some people still seem to think that it is inconsistent to “support the troops” unless one supports the war they are fighting in. I so disagree. I think that one can oppose the war in Iraq, which I have from the very beginning, actually before it started, while appreciating the sacrifices of people in the military and their families.

I think “supporting our troops” would have meant getting them the vehicles and body armor necessary to withstand roadside bombs much earlier. I think “supporting our troops” involves supporting a G.I. Bill for our returning troops. I think “supporting our troops” means getting them home ASAP.


ROG


I’m not quite sure what more there is to say. Just this month, there was a study discounting the Saddam Hussein/Al-Qaeda link. This follows this 2007 report, which merely confirms what the 9/11 Commission said back in 2004. I won’t even talk about the expense, which is now calculated in the TRILLIONS of dollars.

Here’s a website tracking the casualties. Let us pray that we’re NOT there for another hundred years.
***
I need to write more on this, but let me say that I really liked Obama’s speech on race.

ROG

Since I understood its meaning, I always liked Veterans Day. When I was a child, I loved the parades.

Now, I appreciate the perhaps the foolhardy optimism of a war to end all wars, which is what they called The Great War; it ended on November 11, 1918, which became Armistice Day. Of course, the Great War became World War I when we fought World War II. Armistice Day became Veterans Day, and we’ve had a couple wars since then.

Even as we honor those who fight the wars the politicians send them to, the foolhardy dream remains:
I ain’t gonna study war no more,
I ain’t gonna study war no more,


Ain’t Gonna Study War No More.
***
United Methodist bishops call for US withdrawal from Iraq.


ROG

On vacation, I was reading an old Newsweek from early May. The cover story was about military chaplains, and how they balance serving God in a time of war. I thought the Editor’s Desk piece by Jon Meacham, who has a background covering religious issues, was particularly interesting:

Historically, the most fervent of believers have often been the most bloodthirsty of warriors. [The Newsweek writers] note that religion can be a dangerous element in the lives of nations. From Saint Augustine to Shakespeare to Lincoln, some of history’s most searching thinkers and politicians have wrestled with the question of God and war, of how we can know for certain that the blood we are spilling is being shed in a just cause.

Which brings me to our national anthem. One of the verses of the Star-Spangled Banner that has long brought me pause is the fourth and final verse. (I know by heart the first and the last; the second and third in part.) It goes:

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation,
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our Trust”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Again from Newsweek’s Meacham:

How can we tell when religion is playing too great a role in our politics, or in the decisions made by our leaders? Lincoln offers a useful test… He prayed…that he might see “the right as God gives to see the right”…He resisted seeing any political course of action as divinely ordained…Are [current and future leaders] curious and probing, believing, as Lincoln did, that “probably it is to be my lot to go on in a twilight, feeling and reasoning my way through life, as questioning, doubting Thomas did?”

Perhaps it is that discomfort, that questioning, that Abraham Lincoln felt in the midst of war that we ought to embrace. It is that thoughtfulness, that wariness, I believe, that best serves God and country.
***
Roger Ebert remembers his friend, and fellow movie critic, the late Joel Siegel

ROG

Somehow Blogger did in the posts I wrote for the past three days. One was the post I did about Lydia, for which I just posted pictures instead. Yesterday’s post on the parenting question I decided to recreate, as it was relatively short. the third, of course, was this one. The problem, which others have experienced as well, is “being worked on.

The gist of the third lost post had to do with the tension of being largely a pacifist and opposing this particular war, for reasons best expressed here, with an appreciation of the sacrifices people in the military and their families endure. I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again: I don’t fault the soldiers for fighting in Iraq. I fault the leadership that put them there, ignoring prewar intelligence.

Someone on one of the Sunday morning shows, a family member of a military man killed in Iraq or Afghanistan referred to Arlington National Cemetery as a “beautiful awful place”, beautiful in the neatly arranged gravestones, awful in terms of what those gravestones represent.

Anyway, try to remember that today is not just “the unofficial beginning of summer” or the end of a three-day weekend.
***
Kimberly Dozier, a CBS News reporter who almost died in Iraq a year ago this week (and two of her colleagues did perish) has a special tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 10 pm EDT called Flashpoint that I will watch.
***
Charles Nelson Reilly died recently. Johnny B. packaged a video tribute so I didn’t have to.

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