Miles Coverdale (manos74) wrote,
Miles Coverdale

Obligatory 9/11 Entry

People are writing their own thoughts and recollections on the Great Unpleasantness (which is the name that makes me most comfortable, so that's what I'll call the day). I will too.

But today, I will let someone else speak for me.

The dead, Roberts mused, what could you say for the dead of this war? What could you really say? Well, there were a lot of things you could say automatically and without thought, but they were all the wrong things; and just this once, just this one war, anyhow, let us try to say true things about the dead. Begin by cancelling the phrase "our honored dead": for that is not true--we forget them, we do not honor them but in rhetoric--and the phrase is the badge of those who want something of the dead. If the dead of this war must have a mutual encomium, then let it be "poor dead bastards." There is at least a little humanity in that. And let us not say of them, this time, "they gave their lives" for something or other; for certainly there was nothing voluntary in their dying. And neither is it fair to speak of "dead heroes," for not at all necessarily does the fact of death include the fact of heroism. Some of these dead were shining youths scornful of the sanctity of their own lives, who lived daily with terror rarefied by inevitability and died with a flawless gesture of self-immolation: and others died as the result of injuries sustained in falling through a privy. But, thought Roberts, if they did not live equally, they are every one equally dead; and you could say this affirmative thing of all: that in a war of terrifying consequence and overwhelming agony, they participated one hundred per cent. That was the only true thing you could say for all, but it was enough. The war demanded the shortening of how many--two million, five hundred and sixty thousand, two hundred and fourteen?--lives, and these men were chosen. So pile them high at Austerlitz and Waterloo and Ypres and Verdun, and add a few new places, Aachen and Dunkerque and Anzio; only do not talk lies about the dead.

--Thoman Heggen, Mister Roberts (1946), p. 117-18

Yes, Heggen refers to a different time, a different circumstance, a different slaughter. But the sentiment lives on, and it is honest. And more so, the sentiment is applicable.

Some people will disagree with this, yes. But before filling out the comment form at the bottom, I invite you to consider this. If you are angry, upset, or morally outraged after reading this... why? All I ask is that you have a clear reason for your discomfort.

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