War? Rumors of War?
There’s been a lot of talk in the news about the possibility of war in Iran and the Middle East. Some people are talking about why we need to go to war with Iran, and some are talking about why war with Iran is a mistake.
I’m tired of war.
I’ve lived through the Korean war, the Vietnam War, the first Gulf War, the second Gulf War, the war on Terror, the Afghan War, and the Iraq War. And this list doesn’t include all the little bitty wars I’ve lived through, like Panama, Grenada, Lebanon, and it doesn’t include all those other little bitty wars I’ve forgotten about and that only the dead remember.
War is a terrible thing. I think that’s one of the things I’ve learned from my mother and father and from writing about their lives and the experience of other Poles in World War II.
In my poem “Landscape with Dead Horses,” I talk about the way the war began in Poland on September 1, 1939. Here’s what I say:
War comes down like a hammer, heavy and hard
flattening the earth and killing the soft things:
horses and children, flowers and hope, love
and the smell of the farmers’ earth, the coolness
of the creek, the look of trees as they unfurl
their leaves in late March and early April.
This is war for me. This is the way I see war. There’s nothing pretty about war, nothing heroic, nothing epic or Homeric. 50 million civilians died in World War II. And you can bet that not one of those deaths was peaceful, not one was a death you would want to wish on your own mother or your father or your children.
And what I hate to admit about war – but I have to – is that sometimes war is necessary.
I’m glad that the US went to war against Hitler and dragged him and his soldiers and followers down and tried to bury every single one of them in an unmarked and unmourned grave.
War, as I see it, was terrible and it was necessary, but the thing I can’t ever forget is that the Germans who fought for Hitler also thought the war was necessary and justified.
That’s one of the problems with war.
What brings us together finally – brings together those who don’t want war and those who want war – is that we all end up scratching our heads and grieving over the chaos and the loss.
About the Author: John Guzlowski’s writing appears in Rattle, North American Review, and other journals. Echoes of Tattered Tongues, his memoir about his parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany, won the Benjamin Franklin Poetry Award and the Eric Hoffer/Montaigne Award. He is the author of the Hank and Marvin mystery novels and True Confessions, a memoir in poems.
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Image Credit: Edward Bawden “Armentieres after Bombing, May 1940″ Public Domain