Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thoughtful Words from a Former Soldier

My tableside book for the past couple of weeks has been Farley Mowat's And No Birds Sang. If you're not familiar with Farley Mowat's writing, you may have seen some of the movies made from his works, like Never Cry Wolf and The Snow Walker, and if you haven't read any of his books, head straight to the bookstore or library and get thy hands on a copy (or two, or three) because he's simply wonderful.

In stark contrast to his lovely nature prose, And No Birds Sang is a testament to his experiences in the depths of the hell of war (in this case, World War II). By turns funny and heart-wrenching, he shows all aspects of a young man's experiences with going to war. But what really moved me was the last page, and because it is so very relevant to what is going on today, I want to type it all in here:

Let it be said then that I wrote this book in the absolute conviction that there never has been, nor ever can be a "good" or worthwhile war. Mine was one of the better ones (as such calamities are measured), but still, a bloody awful thing it was. So awful that through three decades I kept the deeper agonies of it wrapped in the cotton-wool of protective forgetfulness, and would have been well content to leave them buried so forever...but could not, because the Old Lie — temporarily discredited by the Vietnam debacle — is once more gaining credence; a whisper which soon may become another strident shout urging us on to mayhem

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori!

Spawned in Hell long before Homer sanctified it, and goading men to madness and destruction ever since, that Old Lie has to be put down!

If there must be a specific purpose to such a book as mine...let this be it.

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