Gazette-Mail editorial: Thoughts on Veterans Day

Large-scale war is fading

International warfare has mostly vanished in the 21st century, aside from continued morass in the Middle East. Now, conflicts mostly are just local civil wars or secretive terrorism. Huge wars have ceased.

If this trend continues, America gradually will have fewer combat veterans to honor on this special holiday. Nonetheless, all who served this country should be honored, and we offer up some reflections on this Veterans Day.

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“I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. ... I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.” — President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, speech at Chautauqua, New York, Aug. 14, 1936

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“War, despite suffering and horror, fulfills certain deep-seated needs in men, affords certain releases, offers certain compensations. Men yearn for significance in life, for the thrill of meaning in action, for communion in a common cause, for the test of their fiber, paradoxically for both the affirmation of, and the death of, the self.” — Robert Penn Warren, introduction to Selected Poems of Herman Melville

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“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.” — Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman

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“The object of war is not to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his.” — Gen. George Patton

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“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully-equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.” — President Dwight Eisenhower, address to American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953.

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“Here dead lie we because we did not choose to live and shame the land from which we sprung. Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose, but young men think it is, and we were young.” — A.E. Housman

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“War is just a racket. ... It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses. I spent 33 years and four months in active military service, and during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class thug for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.” — Retired Marine Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, two-time winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, in a 1933 speech. (quoted by Charleston priest Jim Lewis in his newsletter)

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“You can’t say civilization doesn’t advance. ... In every war they kill you a new way.” — Mark Twain

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“I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness to both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a method of settling international disputes.” — Gen. Douglas MacArthur, farewell speech to Congress, April 19, 1951

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“You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.” — Rep. Jeanette Rankin, from the book First Lady in Congress, 1974

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“Name me an emperor ever killed by a cannonball.” — Charles V

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“Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die. And it is youth who must inherit the tribulation, the sorrow, and the triumphs that follow the aftermath of war.” — Herbert Hoover

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“War never slays a bad man in its course, but the good always. ... War loves to prey upon the young.” — Sophocles

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“There never was a good war or a bad peace.” — Benjamin Franklin

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“Since war begins in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that we must begin to erect the ramparts of peace.” — UNESCO charter

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“Ez for war, I call it murder / There you have it, plain and flat / I don’t want to go no furder / Than my Testyment for that.” — James Russell Lowell

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“My enemy is dead, a man divine as myself.” — Walt Whitman

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“Wars are not ‘acts of God.’ They are caused by man, by man-made institutions, by the way in which man has organized his society. What man has made, man can change.” — Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson

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“We cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” — Abraham Lincoln, dedicating the battlefield cemetery at Gettsyburg, 1863

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“There are few die well that die in a battle.” — Shakespeare, Henry V

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“Doughboys were paid a whole dollar a day / and received free burial under the clay / And movie heroes are paid even more / shooting one another in a Hollywood war.” — Alfred Kreymborg, What Price Glory?

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“I find a hundred thousand sorrows touching my heart, and there is ringing in my ears like an admonition eternal, an insistent call, ‘It must not be again.’” — President Warren Harding at Hoboken, over bodies of the American Expeditionary Force returned from France

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“It takes 20 years or more of peace to make a man; it takes only 20 seconds of war to destroy him.” — King Baudoin I of Belgium, addressing the U.S. Congress in 1959

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“Terrible as an army with banners.” — The Song of Solomon

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“In peace, children inter their parents; war violates the order of nature, and causes parents to inter their children.” — Herodotus

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“One murder makes a villain, millions a hero.” — Beilby Porteus

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“The sword sung on the barren heath, the sickle in the fruitful field; the sword he sung a song of death, but could not make the sickle yield.” — William Blake

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“‘You’re wounded!’ ‘Nay,’ the soldier’s pride / touched to the quick, he said / ‘I’m killed, Sire!’ and his chief beside, / smiling the boy fell dead.” — Robert Browning

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Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. ... The working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish the corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace.... They are continually talking about your patriotic duty. It is not their but your patriotic duty that they are concerned about. There is a decided difference. Their patriotic duty never takes them to the firing line or chucks them into the trenches.” — socialist-pacifist-labor leader Eugene V. Debs, part of a 1918 speech at Canton, Ohio, that caused him to be sentenced to 10 years in prison under the Sedition Act

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“War hath no fury like a non-combatant.” — C.E. Montague, Disenchantment, 1922

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“The appalling thing about war is that it kills all love of truth.” — Georg Brandes, letter to Georges Clemenceau, 1915

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“Is there any man here, or any woman — let me say, is there any child — who does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry?” — President Woodrow Wilson, speech in St. Louis, Sept. 5, 1919

Funerals for Thursday, December 12, 2019

Aide Jr., Mitchell - Noon, Tyree Funeral Home, Oak Hill.

Banks, Betty - 11 a.m., Stevens & Grass Funeral Home, Malden.

Barnett, Harry - 1 p.m., Mountain View Memorial Park, Richwood.

Bennett, Mary - 2 p.m., Lantz Funeral Home, Alderson.

Fortney, Etta - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Goolsby, Neva - 11 a.m., Ridgelawn Memorial Park Abbey of Devotion, Huntington.

Harris, Carl - 1 p.m., Armstrong Funeral Home, Whitesville.

Hartley, Roberta - 1 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.

Holbrook, Ralph - 11 a.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.

Holstine, Drema - 1:30 p.m., Fidler & Frame Funeral Home, Belle.

Paxton, Justine - Noon, John H. Taylor Funeral Home, Spencer.

Pulliam, Robert - 5:30 p.m., Cross Point Church of God, Beckley.

Runion, Vance - 2 p.m., Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes.

Taylor, Ford - 2 p.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Smith, Roberta - 1 p.m., Taylor-Vandale Funeral Home, Spencer.

Stout Jr., Bernard - 2 p.m., Dodd & Reed Funeral Home, Webster Springs.

Walker, Atha - 1 p.m., Bartlett-Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.