The Western Socialist
Vol. 26 - No. 211
No. 7, 1959
In a thousand places, before a thousand monuments, people stand, perhaps in rain, perhaps in snow — hats in hand, heads bowed.
What are they thinking?
Are they thinking of the blood and guts poured over the world's battlefields from millions of human bodies, the bodies of young men who died without knowing why they died?
Is this what they're thinking?
Do they see the crimson remains of what once were men, strewn about the stained and blackened ruins of what once were places where men lived?
Are they thinking of the broken bodies that didn't die, of the young men who went away filled with the courage and determination of youth, now returned, their courage, determination and youth left behind?
Are these their thoughts?
Are they thinking of all the times when the world's youth went out to destroy and be destroyed, of World War I, World War II and the other wars that brought the beautiful flowers so neatly arranged within their view? Are they thinking of World War III, looming terribly before them, and World War IV and the other wars that lurk in the shadows beyond. Do they think that the world is better for all these horrors, that surviving man has gained in stature, in dignity, in freedom and peace and goodwill and will continue to gain from further horrors?
Or are they disturbed and wondering and groping?
And what of the statesmen, the churchmen and the military men, who stand before the people and address them? Are they saying that the millions who died in war need not have died, that there can never be need for war? Are they saying that this periodic carnage has never served a worthy end, that the lives and work of men have been wantonly destroyed to serve only the propertied interests of a parasite class, that wars will go on and on, adding to terror and anguish and piling up mountains of reddened rubble so long as propertied interests dominate society?
Or are they talking in deep emotion about heroic deeds, eternal glory, the triumph of right? Are they glossing over the blood and guts of tortured humanity, transforming its darkest moments into its finest hour, finding in callous greed the purest of motives? Are they thinking of a new world of peace and security, or are they thinking of a new antagonist in world plunder who must be buried in blood?
Soldiers gather in formation, flags fly, martial music is played. The statesman, the churchmen, the military men, stand erect and proud and respectful. It is not a day to remember and learn from the things remembered — to look back with horror and forward with confidence. It is a day to reassure the propertied class, to rekindle the martial spirit, to preserve the willingness to do it again. It is a day of sham, hypocrisy and lies, worthy only of man's determination to end the society that flaunts its brutality in pomp, color and oratory, barren of remorse, mercy and hope.