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.
The Band Played Waltzing Matilda was written by Australian, Eric Bogle, and this version is sung by Canadian, John McDermott. You can find the lyrics and a brief background here.
(Thank you Lisa for showing me how to stream the music like this.)
I couldn't get the clip to work, nor Dale's clip. They go into buffering for 10 minutes and stall there at 2% (because I have a dial-up connection)! But it's good to have reminders of what today is all about, why it's a holiday and why I'm off from work!
Very moving, AC. War renders us all victims. It's aftermath affects generations still unborn.
Thanks for the reminder of the sacrifices made by our brothers and sisters in other hemispheres. I must do some research and learn more about Anzac Day.
I appreciate all your sentiments here - are we in a minority here, those of us who think war is a futile way to solve problems? There has got to be a better way, and its our job to find it.
I have never understood the ways of war. But then, in all honesty, I live a sheltered existance in this free and lovely land. Free..because others were willing to fight in a war.
I just wish there was a better way.
The better way is RIGHT relationship, rather than brute relationship. No hitting. No taking another's toys. Share.
But then, the eternal problem. What to do with bullies? Let's see. Bully them. Jail them. Handcuff them. Lobotomize them. Drug them. Kill them. Persuade them of their error. Pray for them. Elect them to public office. Dress them in pink & hit them in the face with cream pies. Adopt them. Send them to therapy. Tolerate them.
What am I missing here?
That's too bad PBS as they are both worthwhile. I suppose it's no consolation for me to tell you that they load in seconds on broadband? No, I thought not. Sorry.
I'm glad that most others seem able to d/l them.
Thank you for the reminder.
I would not have 'remembered' except for the fact that no mail came today.
I hate war.
Yes, I do hate it.
Hi! I've seen your comments at PBS's blog.
I think there are times when you need to put a bully in there proper place, but as for the war were fighting now, the war to end terrorism, I'm afraid it's only creating a new generation of terrorists. Sometimes it is better to turn the other cheek. It's just hard to know when to fight and when to walk away.
"their" proper place, I meant.
AC, I've been super busy the last few days so this comment is a little late. I suppose war is sometimes necessary to defend against the aggression of some but it must be the LAST resort. It's amazing how we can solve technical challenges but can't find options to deal with tyrants without harming the innocent. There are ways -- there have to be ways. I refuse to believe otherwise.
I have no solution to war. You have to do something because they can't go around blowing up people.
Then they expect us to let them have 3 hots and a cot the rest of their lives for "punishment".
The older I get the more I want to see the death penalty brought back for major crimes.
That is no cure, either.
We stumble blindly forward.
Oft times mankind's greed knows no depth. When these kind fo people decide they want something, be it land, oil, or money, things get way out of hand. I wish I knew how to stop war, but I am simply one man and can only take inventory of my own heart and actions. We should try to help others see the light, but know that not all can be changed.
At least when the pot boils over, there are unfortunately those that will have to make the ultimate sacrifice to draw the line somewhere. To them we owe the ultimate debt of gratitude. It is only a shame that people only remeber the sacrifice they made once a year.
I wouldn't say that war is necessary, but, at least in the U.S., we have no concept or understanding of what life would be without it. Quite a sad reality.
As for the short stories, don't you remember any of O'Henry's? The Gift of the Magi or The Last Leaf? Both powerful, wonderful, unforgettable. And the alien one you detailed, that's by Ray Bradbury, isn't it? Boy, you got me reminiscing.
Thank you for the gift of the video clip you provided, and yes, I did end up weeping. It was so fairly done, and it lays it on the line: whether you like war or not, and who would, sometimes wars have to be fought to protect or save or free other people, and not just ourselves. Also, thanks to each and every person, past and present, in the armed forces.
I knew there was a reason for visiting this blog today. You made me sad and you made me weep for all the young men we have lost in this war and the families that mourn them. I love the song. John Mcdermott is one of my favorites. What a voice!
I hate war. There has to be a better way. There just has to be.
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