Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What Are You Celebrating?

There's a reason why you rarely hear celebration of war from anyone who actually fought in one.


Sadly, we are also unaware of any school districts taking Kurt Vonnegut’s advice on how to commemorate wars:
“Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns.”
Cat’s Cradle
But what did he know, anyway? He didn’t think massacres were worth celebrating either. Or maybe kids could learn about what a glorious thing war is by following WW II infantryman/journalist/cartoonist Bill Mauldin’s 1945 instructions for the civilian on the homefront who wants an idea of what The Boys went through:
“Dig a hole in your back yard while it is raining. Sit in the hole until the water climbs up around your ankles. Pour cold mud down your shirt collar. Sit there for 48 hours, and, so there is no danger of your dozing off, imagine that a guy is sneaking around waiting for a chance to club you on the head or set your house on fire.
“Get out of the hole, fill a suitcase full of rocks, pick it up, put a shotgun in your other hand, and walk on the muddiest road you can find. Fall flat on your face every few minutes as you imagine big meteors streaking down to sock you.
“After 10 or 12 miles (remember — you are still carrying the shotgun and suitcase) start sneaking through the wet brush. Imagine that somebody has booby-trapped your route with rattlesnakes which will bite you if you step on them. Give some friend a rifle and have him blast in your direction once in a while … run like hell all the way back to your hole in the back yard, drop the suitcase and shotgun, and get in.
“If you repeat this performance every three days for several months you may begin to understand why an infantryman sometimes gets out of breath. But you still won’t understand how he feels when things get tough.
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