What is absurd and monstrous about war is that men who have no personal quarrel should be trained to murder one another in cold blood. ~Aldous Huxley
I didn't really set out to make it World War I weekend, but that is what it turned out to be.
I had been reading a book called "Passchendaele", a book based on a screenplay written by Paul Gross about a battle during World War I.
The germination of the story came from a tale Gross heard his grandfather tell him on a fishing trip when he was 14 years old. His grandfather told him about being in Belgium and fighting in World War I for Canada, and taking his bayonet and stabbing a young German soldier. The image haunted his grandfather his whole life. And the story changed Gross' life.
This book, and eventually the movie, that opens up next month in Canada, shared about the battle of Paschendaele, and the conditions the men fought in while in this battle. They lived in a muddy, cratered landscape, where the soil and water were filled with dead, bloated bodies, and chemicals from the gas warfare the German's used. It was amazing men survived in such conditions.
I vividly remember learning about World War II in high school, but don't remember being taught about World War I. My latest rememberance of learning a bit about the effects of this war was reading Madeliene L'Engle's memoirs, and she wrote about her father who had respirtory difficulties because of being gassed in the war.
The movie I watched was called "Gallipoli". This was a story based on a battle the Australian army fought against the Turks. The ending battle scene shows the men basically leaving their trenches with no possible way of surviving. They knew they were going to die. And it was because of an error made by the commanding officers who were not even in the vicinity. It was such a sad story.
I remember one of the things that struck me when I visited Washington D.C. for the first time, and visiting all the memorials was the feeling that war was absurd. And as you read the quotes from the American Revolution, to the War of 1812, to the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, see the memorials dedicated to many of these conflicts, it seems like we just don't learn from history.
I love my country. I am proud of the men and women who make the choice to defend our country. But I often wonder if the price it too high?
To me, the Korean War Memorial is the most hauntingly beautiful memorial that I saw. As you look at the faces on the men portrayed in the statues, you see their pain, and struggles. And the quote that is next to the memorial is so true..."Freedom Is Not Free".
I pray for the men and women at war. I pray for their families. I pray for peace.