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Sunday, May 30, 2004

Wooden Memorials

The Greeks used to make their war memorials out of wood so that the remembrance of emnity should last for only a generation or two.

They understood that a twist of fate can humble the arrogant, and that humane treatment of the defeated leads to healing.

Do monuments to past wars lead to future wars?

It's interesting to note that the "greatest generation" was the demographic segment least taken in by the drumbeat for war, and now their experiences during WWII are used as a backdrop to strenghthen national resolve in this current misguided debacle. I fully expect a presidental address prior to the election in front of the new WWII memorial. Their sacrifice is used to cast an air of legitimacy to Bush's crusade.

Here's Wilfred Owen's War Memorial, and mine. The ironic title, translated to English from Latin means "Sweet and fitting it is to die for one's country". He wrote it from a foxhole during WWI.

Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen:

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
and towards our distant flares began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick boys!--An ecstacy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea,I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.



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