This next Sunday (the last one of September) is “Gold Star Mother’s Day.” On it, we are supposed to remember the mothers who have lost a son or daughter who was serving in the military.
A couple friends took me to an Infantry museum yesterday. There was a lot to look at and plenty of interesting information. To my surprise, the organizers had even admitted that the high casualties in the First World War caused most of the “Western World” to fear another such war, which is not so much fun to admit. We were also showered with constant reminders that the infantry men had “matured” or “become men” because of their combat experience.
One poem (by Keo R. Gathman, 2006) says this:
When he first saw them in dress blues
The heart within her little boy knew,
That nothing short of becoming one of them would do.
She often took the time to pray,
“Lord be with my boy today.”
“Help him clearly see the man I know that he can be, [...]”
Why is war the mark of a man? What makes a uniform worth wearing? Germany, Italy, Russia, China—these countries have all been proud of their uniforms too. Where we saw empire growth from communists and fascists, they saw empire growth from the capitalists**.
Several videos at the museum explained that the men no longer took time with their family (or good food) for granted. Are boys incapable of seeing this, without the military to “make them men?” In other words, do we have to attack (or be attacked by) another nation to appreciate what we do have?
That is a lousy reason for war. The ascetics appreciate what they have too.
I think that the better indicator of manhood (or womanhood) is what that person is willing to stand for. When we are young, we learn to avoid what causes pain. When we mature, we learn to do what is right despite the pain.
Men who go to war should do so because they are men, not to become men. A uniform does not guarantee that transition has taken place.
I feel bad for those who have lost family and friends in combat. The same goes for those who were attacked in a provocation to war. It still needs to be thought through. Like the rest of our life, there is a lot of emotion poured into military duty that may or may not be justified.
** Capitalism does have some faults and problems. I think that those problems persist even in Communist and Fascist societies, despite their best efforts, and that it is not due to corruption from the Capitalists. Human nature goes wherever humans are found.