September 14, 2011

The cost of war

Just after midnight on the 2nd day of May this year, the man who very likely bears more responsibility for the state of the world today than most any other human… died. This event happened at the hands of American Navy Seals, and not very many in the western world would argue that this was not a good and proper thing. 

The next day a fellow by the name of  Drew Gilpin Faust, by trade a Civil War historian, but currently serving as the President of Harvard University, delivered the annual Jefferson Lecture of the National Endowment for the Humanities, 

Telling War Stories: Reflections of a Civil War Historian” was the title of the lecture, and Dr. Faust had prepared for this presentation from long before the death of bin Laden could likely have been even predicted.

Events following September 11, 2001... when bin Laden’s plans set in motion the longest war in which this country has ever participated... have followed predictable paths, yet Dr. Faust’s lecture that day seemed to have fallen right into place with events just the day before he could never have anticipated.

They will in these myriad details get history just right. But what will they understand of war?? . . . Will the reenactors tell only an old ‘battle piece’ of courage and glory and how sweet and proper it is to die? Will we in this historic sesquicentennial—to be observed at a time when Americans are involved in real conflicts in three sites across the globe—forget what a heavy responsibility rests on those who seek to tell the stories of war?”

The comparison of world events today to events happening in a war over a century ago is most interesting. The rest of that lecture may be found [HERE] in PDF.