But I do not celebrate that soldiers have to go into war.
In our travels, we have had occasion to visit two of the Allied cemeteries in Europe. We visited the Normandy beaches in France ten years ago, and were so struck by the desolate rugged beaches that the Allies stormed on D-Day. Then, on a rainy afternoon we stood in the cemetery near the D-Day beaches and saw the rows and rows of crosses, or Stars of David. It is impossible not to be awed at the incredible sacrifice such a cemetery represents.
Two years ago, we visited Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Much of our visit in Luxembourg took us to places that were prominent in the Battle of the Bulge. Then we went to two cemeteries--first the Allies' cemetery, and then the German cemetery.
What a contrast. The Allies' cemetery (which is where General Patton is buried who was killed in a road accident just after the close of the war) looks similar to the D-Day cemeteries with long rows of white crosses. The German cemetery is more somber, with heavy crosses each with two or three soldiers buried. And they all died for "king and country."
Some of the most powerful poetry I have ever read comes out of war experiences. The title of the blog "Dulce et Decorum Est" is derived from Wilfred Owen's eponymous poem. His view of war is very cynical, as he recalls a gassing of soldiers event.
Here is Rupert Brooke's poignant sonnet "The Soldier."
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Rupert Brooke died in 1915--ironically, he was on his way to fight in the battle of Gallipoli, one of those awful battles of World War I, when he died having contracted septic pneumonia.