Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Autumn path

Autumn path
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Tonight I watched the third segment of The War, the new Ken Burns PBS series. I remembered how to prepare cans for metal recycling, of course. And to me, THE WAR will always mean World War II, despite what conflicts we are currently bogged down in.

I had been unclear about Anzio and Monte Cassino. It was horrible to see the ancient monastery almost implode from the bombing. This film says that the Germans weren't using the actual monastery until after the bombing (due to an agreement with the Catholic church) when of course, it was just rubble, so then they did set up gun emplacements there. But the horrible, stalled slogging up Italy (one shot of a truck through deep mud) and the nine-day preparations after the beachhead at Anzio that enabled the Germans to dig in and reinforce made me think Italy was a tougher battle than I knew. And the films of blasted dead and wounded soldiers were shocking, although not certainly as shocking as they could (and should?) have been.

Two great stories of how couples (who would never have seen each other is not for the dislocations of the War) met reminded me of our friends Betty and Emory and how they looked into each other's eyes passing on an Oakland Street and were thurnderstruck. She was frightened by the power of it and he had to work hard to find out who she was. (They ended up together in a home for Alzheimer's patients and now he is dead, and she may not remember the story and certainly wouldn't remember telling it to me.) One of their children got a Macarthur grant for his work on behalf of burn victims. They had other fine children, too. And they seemed to enjoy being around each other whenever I saw them.

What struck me most was the immense amount of WASTE. Wasted young lives, destroyed buildings and landscapes, huge--almost impossible to grasp--waste of metals, oil, and war meteriel. I don't think we had much choice but to participate in that war. Each succeeding war is more immensely wasteful, while so much that would enhance lives goes undone. I don't see that we have learned much. The groups that work for peace seem to me to be pitifully ineffectual, if often good-hearted.
The leaves fall upon this path and are trodden upon, broken up and become part of earth again. I would like to think we could treat our young soldiers with more tender care.

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