War was once thought of as glorious. The young proving their worth in the crucible of events that will shape their lives. War brings out the finest in people. There are still those who live with us who believe in those old lies. Those who believe that war is preferable to peace.
"No one is so foolish as to prefer war to peace, in which, instead of sons burying their fathers, fathers bury their sons." — Herodotus
War is sometimes a necessity. It is never to be celebrated. War will shape the next generation. It will anger, warp, scare, obsess, enliven, still, become the touchstone of lives, it will be a time some will look back and think of it as when they were most alive, and not leave our social consciousness for another two generations. The wounds they carry, we carry together. They fight because we ask them to.
"For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile," as Shakespeare said though Henry V.
Our soldiers are us. We do not have a warrior caste. For any war, even the unpopular ones, it is our brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, fathers and mothers, neighbors, friends, who go and fight because we ask them do. They are not disposable. No matter their condition, their proclivities. Some are great, some are base, they are all types of people, because they are just like us.
And now it seems we need to be reminded of Abraham Lincoln's words during his second inaugural.
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
To those who have gone before, and were asked to give that which is most precious so that we may live in the land of the free, we salute you. May we never forget your sacrifice. May we never forget you wished to be with us. May we never hold the gift you bequeathed to us so cheap as to squander it foolishly.