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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fallen soldiers, fallen leaves

I associate the raking of falling leaves with Veterans Day. Some of this is at the mundane level. One November 10, I raked the leaves so well, and then the next day, more dropped so that it appeared that I had made no effort at all. It seems that the leaves all fall almost at once. I can tell it was last Thursday in the front of my house, with leaves covering up half of the windshield of the car.

The linkage, however, is also more subtle. One rakes the leaves early on, and one feels a sense of accomplishment. In that second and third pass over the same terrain, though, the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Is it REALLY worth the effort to go over that ground again?

War must feel like that. In the beginning, everyone, at least everyone who's in charge of executing the war, must have a sense of the rightness of their duty. As the war drags on, though, do doubts settle in?

I always wondered about extremely long wars. In year 37 of the 100 Years' War, do the leaders remember what the point was. By year 73, all the leaders are most certainly dead, and all there is to hold onto is an abstraction. "For England!" or whatnot.

I came across this video about World War I, the end of which we are celebrating its 90th anniversary today. It's not all gunfire, as the first minute or two might suggest, but has music of the period.

As you may know, WWI was so awful that it was thought that it must certainly be the "war to end all wars." The League of Nations was formed and the world lived peacefully ever after, or so the script read. Here's a list of wars most of them since 1918, with casualties when available.

I guess we'll keep on trying for peace, regardless of our inability to achieve it.

3 comments:

Greg said...

I know you're trying to make a point, but I thought I'd be snarky by pointing out that there was probably 20 total years of warfare in the 100 Years' War (which lasted 116 years). Decades went by with very little actual warfare.

Sorry - it's just the history major in me.

Roger Owen Green said...

Actually, Greg, it doesn't disprove the point. Is there the same motiovation in the beginning of the war as near its conclusion? Or are they saying, in the words of Country Joe McDonald", "what are we fightin' fior? Don't ask me, I don't give a damn."

babooshka said...

It is not the elngth of time, but the fcat that there is war at all ans we never learn. Points well made in your post.