Every year on Veteran’s Day, there’s a flyover of WWII-era planes at Forest Lawn. Since they’re hangared at the Van Nuys Airport, they always fly over our house on the way to and from the cemetery. I always go out and watch them fly over, when I can.
This year there weren’t as many planes as there were last year. I wonder if that’s because they are being flown by WWII era vets, or if it’s just that the planes themselves are coming to the end of their useful life?
I don’t think there is a person alive today whose youth wasn’t shaped by a war of some kind. My maternal great-grandfather was in the Boer War and was killed in WWI, commanding a cavalry charge against Germans with tanks. My grandmother was only 15 when he died. My paternal grandfather never had to serve in the military, but he lived through WWI and WWII and Korea and Vietmam and all the other conflicts that raged between 1888 and 1970. My dad was in the Army in WWII and my mom and her mother got out of France one step ahead of Hitler.
F’zer and I, of course, came of age during the Vietnam war and we are apparently two of a very small number of our generation who remember that the people who are tub-thumping for war in Iraq these days are the same people who helped make a royal mess of Vietnam (Henry Kissinger, Dante reserved a circle just for you, and may you rot there forever once you’re gone).
Bush’s Folly aka Gulf War One happened when my kids were in grade school. And now Bush’s Folly II is in progress and their cousin narrowly escaped being slaughtered over there in Shrub’s cement-headed attempt to one-up his daddy.
The people who tub-thumped for Bush Folly One kept bringing up the specter of Hitler and appeasement to justify trying to pound Saddam. They got it wrong, of course, because they knew nothing of history. Not even recent history, at the time the fighting started. Saddam’s so-called “elite” army had had its butts whupped for seven years by the Ayatollah’s ragtag band of schoolboys and grandfathers, but they were presented to us as some kind of fearsome menace and nobody remembered anything to correct that bilgewater propaganda (and shame on this nation for that, shame). The correct comparison was not to Hitler’s armies, but to the army of Nicholas II, biggest in the world–which meant absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things.
November 11 was originally called Armistice Day, to commemorate the day when the “war to end all wars” ended and the armies laid down their arms. I wish we could focus on that, and really support our troops by not sending them off to die for a bunch of old men’s egos and a perennial frat boy’s perennial desperate futile need to prove he’s got a pair.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.