Tomorrow is Revisionist History Day, what others call Memorial Day. In that spirit, I again quote a passage from the great antiwar movie The Americanization of Emily. This AP photo is a perfect illustration.
I don't trust people who make bitter reflections about war, Mrs. Barham. It's always the generals with the bloodiest records who are the first to shout what a Hell it is. And it's always the widows who lead the Memorial Day parades . . . we shall never end wars, Mrs. Barham, by blaming it on ministers and generals or warmongering imperialists or all the other banal bogies. It's the rest of us who build statues to those generals and name boulevards after those ministers; the rest of us who make heroes of our dead and shrines of our battlefields. We wear our widows' weeds like nuns and perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices....Enjoy the day. I'll spend some of it reading the truth about the warfare state (Chalmers Johnson's Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic) and, I hope, watching Emily. Oh, and if there's time (I have to lecture today at the first FEE seminar), I'll begin Jeff Riggenbach's new book, Why American History Is Not What They Say: An Introduction to Revisionism.
My brother died at Anzio – an everyday soldier’s death, no special heroism involved. They buried what pieces they found of him. But my mother insists he died a brave death and pretends to be very proud. . . . [N]ow my other brother can’t wait to reach enlistment age. That’ll be in September. May be ministers and generals who blunder us into wars, but the least the rest of us can do is to resist honoring the institution. What has my mother got for pretending bravery was admirable? She’s under constant sedation and terrified she may wake up one morning and find her last son has run off to be brave. [Emphasis added.]
I have belatedly learned that the best scene in Emily is online: