“Rough men”

Read what Lex has to say about sending “rough men” to battle in far away places carrying out the government’s (our) bidding.

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One Comment

  1. John D. Young
    Posted May 24, 2006 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Lex,

    Many thanks for your insightful piece. Very few World War II veterans returned to say that they had never fired their weapon even though as you noted less than 20% of our soldiers ever fired and many of those shots were intentionally aimed high. We simply do not understand what war is or what we ask others to do in our name. Those returning soldiers certainly knew what happens in war. Your piece reminds us of why warriors returning from battle during the Middle Ages could not re-enter the Church for several years because war had removed them from connection with core Christian values. I am less inclined to find deep fault with soldiers and more inclined to find fault with those of us who send our young into battle. Ralph Baldwin a recently deceased Vietnam veteran said at New Garden Friends Meeting – “We who have killed for our country go to bed every night with agonizing memories of those we have killed and we wake up every morning with those same haunting memories.�

    You have already quoted Chris Hedges from his powerful book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning� but I will add this quote from Hedges’ book:

    “I learned early on that war forms it own culture. The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug, one I ingested for many years. It is peddled by mythmakers – historians, war correspondents, filmmakers, novelists, and the state – all of whom endow it with qualities it often does possess: excitement, exoticism, power, chances to rise above our small station in life, and a bizarre and fantastic universe that has a grotesque and dark beauty. It dominates culture, distorts memory, corrupts language, and infects everything around it, even humor, which becomes preoccupied with the grim perversities of smut and death. Fundamental questions about the meaning, or meaninglessness, of our place on the planet are laid bare when we watch those around us sink to the lowest depths. War exposes the capacity for evil that lurks not far below the surface within all of us. And this is why for many war is so hard to discuss once it is over.�