For Memorial Day, I offer this quote from Theodore Roosevelt’s Autobiography, published 1913. His observations on politicians and public opinion of his day are remarkably relevant to our current day situation.
I SUPPOSE the United States will always be unready for war, and in consequence will always be exposed to great expense, and to the possibility of the gravest calamity, when the Nation goes to war. This is no new thing. Americans learn only from catastrophes and not from experience.
There would have been no war in 1812 if, in the previous decade, America, instead of announcing that “peace was her passion,” instead of acting on the theory that unpreparedness averts war, had been willing to go to the expense of providing a fleet of a score of ships of the line. However, in that case, doubtless the very men who in the actual event deplored the loss of life and waste of capital which their own supineness had brought about would have loudly inveighed against the “excessive and improper cost of armaments”; so it all came to about the same thing in the end.
There is no more thoroughgoing international Mrs. Gummidge, and no more utterly useless and often utterly mischievous citizen, than the peace-at-any-price, universal-arbitration type of being, who is always complaining either about war or else about the cost of the armaments which act as the insurance against war. There is every reason why we should try to limit the cost of armaments, as these tend to grow excessive, but there is also every reason to remember that in the present stage of civilization a proper armament is the surest guarantee of peace—and is the only guarantee that war, if it does come, will not mean irreparable and overwhelming disaster.
Thank you to all the men and women who have taken up the call to prevent our country’s wars from being irreparable and overwhelming disasters. May the Lord bless you and work through you according to His abundant mercy.
Further: A Memorial Day quote from R.L. Stevenson’s essay, “The English Admirals.”
Peter Collier writes, “We impoverish ourselves by shunting these heroes and their experiences to the back pages of our national consciousness. Their stories are not just boys’ adventure tales writ large. They are a kind of moral instruction. They remind of something we’ve heard many times before but is worth repeating on a wartime Memorial Day when we’re uncertain about what we celebrate. We’re the land of the free for one reason only: We’re also the home of the brave.” (via Books, Inq. and Instapundit)
Chatta Mom (a.k.a. Omie) passes on a photo of our men in Iraq cutting a plot of grass.