Sunday, November 11, 2012

American Anthem

It never hurts to remember that the 1938 congressional act formally setting aside Armistice Day as a national day of remembrance declared it "dedicated to the cause of world peace." That was a hopeful but futile nod to the sacrifices of U.S. troops who died --- roughly 116,000 out of 8.7 million on both sides --- and served during the Great War, ended at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918.

During the next decade, an estimated 62-78 million died, 418,000 of them U.S. military, in World War II --- and Armistice Day became Veterans Day in 1954, set aside to honor all who served in all wars, living and dead.

There have been other smaller but still deadly wars since --- Korea and Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, some futile, others awaiting history's call. Afghanistan goes on.

No shortage of young men and women willing to serve, however; new generations of veterans now, even though service once supplemented by conscription is voluntary. They are among our idealists, motivated more by conviction that it is possible to be a force for good than by patriotic abstractions.

Those youngsters are not the only idealists; but they are the ones willing to back their convictions with their lives. It's up to the rest of us to see that they're not disappointed, and to turn toward peace.

Gene Scheer's "American Anthem" was composed for "The War," a documentary about World War II by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, and is sung by Norah Jones.

Let them say of me that I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings I received.
Let me know in my heart when my days are through,
America, America, I gave my best to you.
America, America, I gave my best to you.

1 comment:

Norm Prince said...

From one Marine to another, thank you for your service to this country. Also wishing you a pleasant 237 year birthday for the corps. May we each find peace in our life.