I stopped by the Visitors Center at Manassas Battlefield Park last month and was struck by a quote capturing Georgia private B. M. Zettler’s reaction to being enmeshed in the battle of Bull Run:
“I felt that I was in the presence of death. My first thought was, ‘This is unfair – someone is to blame for getting us all killed. I didn’t come here to fight this way…’
An excellent sentiment – one that should not be forgotten on Memorial Day. It would have been fairer if the politicians had been in the front lines on both sides at Manassas.
Sheldon Richman, the editor of the Freeman, proposes renaming Memorial Day as Revisionist History Day. General Patton said that an ounce of sweat can save a pint of blood. Similarly, a little reading and thinking this time of year can save a heap of grave digging in the future.
Sacralizing the war dead usually results in exonerating the politicians. Rather than parades, it would be better to celebrate this holiday like the British used to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day – by burning politicians in effigy, or a reasonable facsimile.
Read the Pentagon Papers – and recognize the proper fate of all the politicians and political appointees who hatched and perpetuated that sham.
Likewise for the Iraq war.