A Thousand Veterans of The War die Every Day
THE WAR PBS
We write tonight from Fredricksburg, VA, site of the Civil War engagements. 'Tis quite an amazing thing to stand at rivers edge, at the spot the Union Troops so longed for as they viewed it from across the seemingly narrow waterway. The 'heights' above held the defending Confederate troops, heights that are really only a few steps. The peaceful park there now gives little feeling for the world-turning confusion, terror, and violence endured that December of '62.
Today was spent at Quantico in the company of Marines and their vendors. After an extended happy hour sharing beverages with an elder Marine, we slid into the hotel room in time to catch an episode of Ken Burns' The War.
The quote heading this post appears in Burns' title credits. If you were 18 on Dec. 7, 1941, you'd be 84 today. A pretty long life by most standards. To have begin that adult life in such tumultuous conditions, then seen the changes wrought by the technological and social revolutions seen since....and now to see grandsons again engaged in a world war.
Someone asked me if I'd watched all of The War. No, I didn't. Partly because I knew a lot of it, and partly because I had a backlog of work. But mostly because this is what is now called social history. It's about individuals, and those back home, in communities, in factories, and affected families.
Learning that stuff doesn't help us prevent wars.