Wednesday, January 13, 2016


I'm admittedly a TV addict. And I've noticed the increasing number of shows that involve "war". Storage Wars, Whale Wars, Parking Wars, Design Wars, Cupcake Wars (for Christ's sake!)...the list goes on. Basically, they're shows that try to inject contrived drama and suspense into the miserable lives of mostly unpleasant people who, for one reason or another, take pleasure in abusing others (including animals), being abused, or just generally not getting along with others.

It made me think of how the word "war" has degenerated into something meaningless for so many. Anything even remotely resembling conflict, no matter how stupid and trivial, is now a "war". Even recruiting commercials for the armed services, where people are shown parachuting, SCUBA diving, touring foreign cities, going to college, and the like - all presented with a backdrop of nothing. No context of the genuine risks of getting captured or wounded or killed.

I read a lot of WWII history. I'm especially interested in firsthand accounts of Marine infantrymen in the Pacific Theater, I guess because that's what my Dad was, and I followed in his footsteps 25 years later. One of the most vivid personal, and for me terrifying, accounts I've read was by Robert Muhlbach, related in John Wukovits' One Square Mile of Hell: The Battle for Tarawa:

There was a lot of bayoneting. The strangling and gouging is kind of movie stuff. It happened where there was occasion when we had to use our knives. You wanted to get it deep inside to make sure that it was a kill, and you'd get it in there and wiggle it around, and then extract it. You'd hold onto your rifle. Just as soon as you had a chance to do it, you'd kick the body and pull on your bayonet, wiggling it a bit and loosening it, then pull it out and put it into the next guy. It's hard to explain, but you're in a fight, like a fight in a ring between two boxers. You're just thinking of trying to find an outlet where you could get a punch or a kick in. That's what you're thinking of, damaging the other guy, and there's not much thought of anything else but trying to find that outlet to kill the other guy. Those movie versions - I guess they've got to come up with something that's dramatic. It wasn't dramatic with us. We were supposed to fight, to find a way of killing the other guy.

That's war.


Heidi said...

That's horrifying.

Unknown said...

It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.
- Robert E. Lee