How many countless short stories did I study (I use the word loosely) in high school? There aren't many that I can bring to mind any more. For a number of years, I also taught high school English, but I don't recall many of those short stories either. In point of fact, I recall so few of the stories, plays, novels, and poems that I taught, that I was surprised by some of the titles that I rediscovered when I found and perused my old teaching notes prior to discarding them this past summer.
I do remember a fragment of one story from when I was a student in grade twelve, however: only a fragment, not even the title.
Aliens had snatched a human to interrogate. It seems that the purpose was for them to discover whether we were worth keeping around or whether the universe might not be better served by our extermination.
In the event, they happened to choose a older, salt-of-the-earth, white-haired, grandmotherly woman. You know the kind: naively optimistic with a heart of pure gold — neither an intellectual nor a sophisticate. The only part of the story that I recall somewhat more specifically than that broad overview was that when they asked her what she thought of war, this poor, dear soul, unknowingly saved the planet by telling her truth — that she hated war; that it was a terrible thing. The super-advanced alien beings let her go and spared all of us because, based on what they learned from this woman, whom they supposed to be an ordinary and typical human, we must be a fine species indeed.
Don't you wish there were more people like her? Don't you hate the hunger for war and mayhem that so pervades the beautiful blue planet that is our home? Some say that war is necessary. I disagree, for at the beginning of every war, there must always be a terribly misguided person who begins the unnecessary conflict for misguided reasons. I do agree that there are times that the rest of world must defend itself against aggressors such as those. I understand that; I really do. But don't you think that we should only enjoin battles with reluctant, heavy, and sorrowing hearts, knowing that gentle people will be uprooted, maimed and killed? Don't you hate that there are those plunge into battle slavering gleefully and rubbing their anticipatory hands together over the prospect of battle when they know that much precious blood will be shed?
And that is what I am thinking on this Day of Remembrance It isn't much, but it is.
I give Dale all of the credit for helping me to think of posting this song. When he mentioned to me that he wanted to play his Remembrance Day video clip (do check his blog and watch that video today), I couldn't help but think of the song that I have posted below. If there's a more poignantly suitable song for Remembrance Day (Veterans Day) than The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, I don' t know of it. Please hit play, listen, shed a tear. And while you remember the fallen and slain, may you also join this me in wishing that this, the twenty-first century will see an end to the waste and ravages of unnecessary war.
Update: file has since been inadvertantly trashed, but I think most people who wanted to listen have done so.
(Thank you Lisa for showing me how to stream the music like this.)