…In 2001, we saw the tragedy of 11 September and its aftermath. We watched another war start in Afghanistan, which has been swallowing up armies since the time of Alexander the Great. We are now in the third year of a horrendous war in Iraq, which is killing US troops in the thousands, and Iraqis in the hundreds of thousands and fostering still more hatred and unrest. We are facing yet another Bush instigated “preemptive” war in Iran and possibly Syria. Once more the toll will be enormous…
My memory of war starts with World War II. I was just a boy during the war and it was largely an adventure to us, but I remember the quiet pride and the sadness in the eyes of the increasing number of mothers who hung a gold star in their window, never knowing if my mom might be next and my big brother, a Pearl Harbor survivor, gone.
The wars, great and small, were legion in the last century. My dad lost his leg in the Phillippines in 1913. WW-I, was the “Great War to end all wars.” An entire generation died in the trenches. One of my uncles, who lied about his age, was the first, and youngest, soldier from Oregon to die in that war, at the battle of Chateau Thierry.
The memory of man is short and only twenty years passed before another generation was thrown into the meat grinder to stave off domination by Hitler’s Nazis, Mussolini’s Fascists and Imperial Japan’s expansion.
We had hardly buried the dead and recovered from the shock of the realities of nuclear annihilation when East and West went at it in Korea, a war which still goes on, the fighting finally just stopped by mutual agreement.
The cold war and the covert wars went on, with the poisonous testing of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons. I was present at one such series in 1956. The memory has never ceased to haunt me. Then along came Vietnam. Since then, the “little” wars have gone on all over the world, like brush fires in the California hills, consuming human and material resources.
In 2001, we saw the tragedy of 11 September and its aftermath. We watched another war start in Afghanistan, which has been swallowing up armies since the time of Alexander the Great. We are now in the third year of a horrendous war in Iraq, which is killing US troops in the thousands, and Iraqis in the hundreds of thousands and fostering still more hatred and unrest. We are facing yet another Bush instigated “preemptive” war in Iran and possibly Syria. Once more the toll will be enormous.
Amongst the dead may be the man who would have discovered the cure to cancer and other deadly diseases, the composer who may have surpassed Mozart or Brahms, the playwright or poet who might have succeeded Shakespeare, the statesman who could have brought about world peace or the person who might have been able to end world hunger.
Those are the might-have-been’s. The reality is the millions of humans who have died, fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, fighters and civilians in this past century, all with the dream of peace and human dignity before them. Yet, with the new millennium, war still goes on around the world, and apparently it will continue until we once again learn to talk, negotiate and compromise, not legislate or dictate at the point of a gun.
Let us give pause in remembrance of those who died, often alone and forgotten, victim of mine and booby trap, sniper fire or disease and infection, whose resting place is unmarked save for perhaps a little more verdant growth where they have nurtured the soil.
Let us give pause in remembrance for those who survived, maimed in body or soul by the atrocity of war.
Let us give pause in remembrance for those who survived to carry on, with nothing but memories, of which they do not speak.
Let us give pause in remembrance for those whose lives ended abruptly, without warning, on 11 September. And of those of all nations and beliefs who continue to die by war and terrorism.
Let us give pause and reflect, that we might carry out our lives in such a way that love and tolerance might overbalance hatred and bigotry in the scales of life and the dream of peace might become a reality, so those we remember today did not die in vain.
Written by Stephen M. Osborn, and published at www.populistamerica.com. Stephen is a freelance writer living on Camano Island in the Pacific Northwest. He is an “Atomic Vet.” (Operation Redwing, Bikini Atoll 1956, ) who has been very active working and writing for nuclear disarmament and world peace. He is a retired Fire Battalion Chief, lifelong sailor, writer, poet, philosopher, historian and former newspaper columnist. He welcomes your feedback at email@example.com