Thursday, April 05, 2007

Carlton's log, DC...Manassas, actually

Hi. My name is S'mee; and I hate war.

I am a child of my era and I am not a fan of fighting at all. I am more along the lines of Rodney King who stated, "Why can't we all just get along?"

I am naive in my heart of hearts. I know that in the grown up world someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong. Someone must stand up and say: "ENOUGH!" in order that people become and remain free. However, I am still not a fan of war.

Please understand me however, when I say, I fully support the men and women who chose the military as their career for a limited amount of service time or for their life. I admire them. I thank them. I am amazed at the unselfish, heroic job they claim.

In the east, and especially in and around the D.C. area you are inundated with symbols, statues and memorials all in someway connected to war. It is difficult for me to be around all of these emblems of sacrifice and heroism. I am the kind of person who personalizes too much. For me, these memorials become tributes to unknown family, unknown people in my heart and after a while, I just can't take it anymore.

As we drove out to see yet another historical site, Manassas, I felt consumed with the thoughts of war and its' cruelties and began, again, to associate all this military drama, the scenes, the scents, and the emotions with someone I know.

We watched a film documenting the battle that took place at Manassas. The battle that was thought to be the only one, after this battle the war would be settled and that would be that. As it turns out, this battle was the precursor for the rest of the civil war and just the beginning of what would become our nation's greatest nightmare.

I was caught in the reenactment on film. Young boys standing a few yards apart and literally shooting each other to death until there were no more. Family members unfamiliar with the realities of war made picnic baskets and took the kiddies out to cheer on big brother, dad, and uncle. To their dismay they could only hear the boom of the canons and to their choice blessing, the smoke of those canons blocked the view of the horrors. Later after the smoke cleared they would rise to see hundreds of their loved ones piled upon each other, dead where they lay, waiting for someone to claim them and take them home.

I watched this film as if it were real, for it was. It upset me more than the others in the theatre. One man snored loudly as the bodies fell. I have never been able to be desensitised, this is why I hate war. It is always real to me.

I am amazed at the bravery of both sides. Young men who stood and took their shot, knowing it was just a matter of time before they would not go to an earthly home when all was finished. Young people still are doing this today. Young people who believe that what they do is for a greater cause than themselves. For them I have love and gratitude. It is for them I raise my flag each national holiday. Never do I raise the flag to honour war, only those who fight in one.

Last Saturday an elderly friend of mine fell. This is a man who devoted his entire life, since his 17th birthday, to the military service which became a literal part of him. This is a man who saw many of the atrocities and terrors face to face and witnessed the death of over half of his comrades. He saw WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, and others. He wore his uniform as an indication of his commitment to freedom and to the land of his fathers. He dedicated his whole self to being an example of a warrior and a gentleman. Above all he was a gentle man.

He earned 6 purple hearts and the Congressional Medal of Honour. He earned 23 various medals and too many ribbons for me to remember without his record in front of me. He was admired by Colonels and Majors, and all the men with whom he served. Upon hearing of his death, a Colonel serving in Iraq telegramed my friend's wife so that she would know he loved and admired his life and service to others.

It was this man who I saw lined up as a civil war youth, taking a hit for freedom. Bravely standing, knowing he would fall for the rights of his country and fellow man. It is he who I thought of as I wondered at the bravery of men and women still who, although we have weapons with stealth capabilities, still have death to face everyday. It is he who I will mourn along with his widow.

I echo the words of F.D.R....

"I have seen war. I have seen war on land and on sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives.

I hate war."

add to sk*rt


chronicler said...

Very well said. Great tribute to your friend also. said...

I agree...however I do believe war is sometimes an evil necessity. I am in awe of our military. They have courage beyond that which I can imagine. I am grateful to your friend and all others whom have served.
The Civil War was mind boggling when you think of the key battles and the great losses.

s'mee said...

ljs...Watching this documentary was sooo moving, it really bothered me. I understand about war being necessary, I just think there are far too many wars which were not/are not. Wars that escalate without reason or just cause. Yes, war is necessary at times, but I think sometimes we, in our history and other countries,have jumped into war when other means could have been used to resolve conflicts in a more rational method. Or when particular strategies could have better employed the troops in making a resolution more expedient and efficient.