Monday, May 31, 2010

The Folly of War

I saw a video today on YouTube showing the reactions of children when one of their parents, serving in America's Armed Forces, surprised them with a visit home. (Click for link) You can see the joy on their faces dissolve into tears and back to joy again when they first spot Dad or Mom. There are so many sad things about sending young (and not so young) people off to war. It must be especially rough for those who are married with children. Not only does the soldier know he or she may be about to enter a combat zone to put their lives at risk, but those who are left behind must agonize not knowing if they will ever see their husband, wife or child again. And yet this insanity goes on every day in America.

I wonder how often this sad scene is repeated in other countries around the world. It's easy to empathize with American families in this situation because, after all, this is our country, and while we are sad that people must go to war, we also celebrate their bravery for defending democracy and freedom. Are not people from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and other places embroiled in conflicts going through the same sad scenes? Do their soldiers not love their families and pray they will live to see them again? It may be hard to ascribe these feelings and emotions to enemies like Third World Muslim terrorists; it's much easier to hate them. But somehow, no matter how despicable their methods, on some level they go through the same anguish as we do.

I remember as a kid hearing stories about how families would dread that fateful telegram informing them that their son had died in combat. Black crepe bows would be displayed on their doors to let the neighborhood know that their family had made the ultimate sacrifice. Imagine the pain when Tom and Alleta Sullivan of Waterloo, Iowa received their telegram with the sad news that their five sons, all serving in the United States Navy on the light cruiser USS Juneau, were all killed when the ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine on November 13,1942. A friend of mine, Jack Bilello, wrote a good book about the incident called "A Band of Brothers". The Sullivan brothers death ultimately resulted in a change in Navy policy, prohibiting siblings from serving on the same ship.

Every time a soldier dies in battle, no matter what country he or she may come from, a family is torn apart. Since the beginning of man's arrival on earth we have been fighting wars over religion, territory, ideologies, politics...and for what? Is anything ever permanently resolved? They gave that peanut farmer Jimmy Carter the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts at negotiating peace between the Arabs and the Israelis. The ink wasn't even dry on the Camp David Accords before hostilities broke out again. I'm tired of seeing soldiers returning to their families in flag-draped coffins. I pray that somewhere in the world tomorrow's leaders are being born who understand that war accomplishes nothing. We must learn to use our wits and resources to help those less fortunate in the world, not kill them.

On this Memorial Day we remember those who have sacrificed all for our freedom. I find my thoughts are with the families of the brave soldiers who go into wars started by old men who never see or feel the horrors of the front lines. I like what Albert Einstein had to say about war: "We must be prepared to make heroic sacrifices for the cause of peace that we make ungrudgingly for the cause of war." Say a prayer today for those families with a loved one in harm's way that they may one day be reunited. Say a prayer too that the leaders of the world will stop squandering billions on armaments and go to war instead against hunger, poverty and ignorance.


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The Whiner said...

The best blog ever. Amen, Dad.

Joseph Del Broccolo said...

You can't raise above the lowest man as a society. We need to raise the level of love and compassion, and put our minds to work helping all the people all the time for peace to be real and lasting.