I mentioned a week or so back that my view of soldiers had changed. When viewing lines of our brave men and women, all uniform and marching in time, where once I was filled with awe and patriotism, now I'm filled when a profound sense of sadness and loss.
I should qualify that statement, that while I am still feel a tremendous sense of obligation towards these men and women for being willing to pay the ultimate price, my sense of sadness is not for them, but more for the tremendous loss of life which war brings.
I am however also perhaps the most unqualified person to speak on such matter, never having faced an enemy with a gun myself. I was born in a time of war in what is now Zimbabwe, I remember undergoing bomb and terrorist attack drills while in Elementary School, but there my experience ends.
I should like to introduce you though to one of the most decorated and experienced soldiers in the history of the United States military.
Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940), nicknamed "The Fighting Quaker" and "Old Gimlet Eye", was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps and, at the time of his death, the most decorated Marine in U.S. history.
During his 34 years of Marine Corps service, Butler was awarded numerous medals for heroism including the Marine Corps Brevet Medal (the highest Marine medal at its time for officers), and subsequently the Medal of Honor twice. Notably, he is one of only 19 people to be twice awarded the Medal of Honor, and one of only three to be awarded a Marine Corps Brevet Medal and a Medal of Honor, and the only person to be awarded a Marine Corps Brevet Medal and a Medal of Honor for two different actions.
I pulled that from wikipedia, and the remainder of the article cites experiences from his life, both personal and career specific.
Having seen that much conflict, and fighting for freedom as much as he had, the following statement may come as a surprize to some. Said he...
"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."
The following 5 postings are in fact chapters from his book - War is a Racket. It's a chilling account of the cost of war and it's effect on our culture, from a man who knows it best...