Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Greatest Casualty of War Is Our future


Memorial Day serves as a reminder that “beneath the beauty of the lilies lies the ugliness of war.” This James Carroll metaphor perfectly captures the most profound meaning of war, and of all the things that we have lost because of it.

(This article was first published on the Yahoo Contributors Network on May 29, 2013)


Except when other duties called, I have always attended my hometown’s observance of Memorial Day. Like everyone else, at the time I was absorbed in the memorializing that is customary on this day. But since Vietnam, Memorial Day has for me only served as a reminder that “beneath the beauty of the lilies lies the ugliness of war.” This James Carroll metaphor perfectly captures the most profound meaning of war, and of all the things that we have lost because of it.

On this day, I think of what those we have lost would have contributed to their families, communities, nation, and world; if only we had chosen a different course of action other than war. I think of all the contributions of those who, as described by President Obama, “brought the shadows of battle back home” would have made in the absence of their debilitations.

I think of all those who suffered what we euphemistically call “collateral damage” that have been killed, maimed, or otherwise impaired, and the contributions they would have made.

(land mines and other unexploded ordnance from years of war continue to kill and maim to this day.)

And, as I solemnly view our cemeteries of flags and flowers, I further realize that what we have allowed is the trading of lives for power, profit, and glory. I think of all the money, resources, research and development that we have wasted to improve, maintain, and deploy our war machine. Money, resources, and research that could have been directed toward advancing science, education, medicine, healthcare … and making the United States and our world a better place to live if we had chosen a different way other than war.

On Memorial Day in recent years, I have made it a point to visit the place where Matthew Bean lies beneath his flag and flowers. Mathew died of wounds sustained on May 19, 2007 in Lutifiyah, Iraq. For me, Mathew’s grave and Carroll’s metaphor are reminders to speak out against a government and others who would hoodwink Americans, particularly our young people, into thinking that a Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan serves some nobility of purpose, as when I was a young man prior to Vietnam. It behooves every American to speak out because we should never allow such wars to happen again.

Copyright © 2014 Horatio Green







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