“It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.” General Robert E. Lee
My wife’s grandfather was a WW II veteran. He served in North Africa, was wounded in Sicily, and was sent back into action after D-Day, which he’d missed while healing in a hospital.
He didn’t talk about the war. He would not talk about it. Anytime it was brought up, he’d say something to the effect of “that war is over.” That was about as much elaboration as you were likely to get.
I was told that when his son, my wife’s uncle, turned 18 and the recruiters began calling him, he’d have a few choice words for them and tell them not to call back.
I’m a former active duty Marine. My Dad was a Marine and served in Vietnam, as did his brother who was awarded a Bronze Star. My Grandfather and his brothers were all WW II era Veterans, and their Father served in WW I. To summarize, my family’s military history goes back to the American War for Independence. I used to love hearing stories from the men in my family about the places they’d been and the battles they were involved in.
When I joined the Marine Corps in 1986 I’d spent a fair amount of my childhood immersed in books and movies dealing with the various wars that Americans had fought. I was absolutely obsessed with the military, and after three months at Parris Island I was willing to go anywhere in the world and kill anyone my government told me to. As I saw it, it was my duty. It was what I signed up for.
But looking back, I had sworn an oath that I did not understand, to a document that I understood even less. Had I possessed some cursory comprehension of that document, the US Constitution, I’d have been able to discern that the vast majority of 20th Century wars were not pursued in a manner that were in keeping with its delegated powers. Moreover, they were even less in keeping with the actual purpose of the military- to defend the individual rights of the American people from foreign enemies.
Virtually every war of the 20th Century that we have been involved in was avoidable. But avoiding war would not accomplish the real, untold motives for our involvement- profiteering by the well connected and enlargement of the state. Thousands died to achieve those ends.
Like many Southerners, my family has a rich military history. But if I have anything to say about it, short of our being invaded, that tradition ends with me. I hope my sons will go to college, learn a trade, pursue their ambitions in a peaceable manner and generally live the life that God intended for them.
As for “making the world safe for democracy” and other such jingoistic nonsense that politicians spew in an effort to whip up public support for their latest adventure, I’m not buying it. If you must take a member of my family, take me. I’ll be your cannon fodder. But leave my boys alone.