Pro Patria Mori We go about our daily lives, occasionally unable to get to work on time because of the wrath-of-god type flooding, spend our time watching TV, or drinking, or playing poker, or writing our sardonic and occasionally profanity-laden posts. And this is how it should be.
But in a week where we lost our 1,000th American soldier in Iraq, it feels necessary to use this unholy milestone to reflect and remember that--no matter what your politics--war is a nasty thing that hurts those that deserve it least. So for those brave souls who gave their last full measure for their country and for another country halfway around the world, I must salute them.
Required reading for this week, if you can, is "Catch-22," by Joseph Heller, since no book better shows the irrationality of war, followed quickly by "For Whom the Bell Tolls," by Ernest Hemingway--an amazing book both about the utter necessity of fighting for what you believe in, coupled with the absurdity of having to kill good people on the other side who are doing the same. Plus, they're both great books.
If that doesn't do it, or if you don't have the time, then read on:
Wilfred Owen Dulce Et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs And towards our distant rest began to trudge. Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.
GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling, Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time; But someone still was yelling out and stumbling And floundering like a man in fire or lime.-- Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace Behind the wagon that we flung him in, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin; If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-- My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.