Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Email Rant: Dulce et Decorum Est

Quoth Eric Dondero:

Do I think the death of a single American soldier is more important than reporting on successes in Iraq?

Yes, reporting actual, factual news is more important than reporting non-existent successes.

No, not really. Especially when you consider that in one single day in the Civil War at the battle of Gettysburg...

Over 60,000 American soldiers lost their lives.

I'm going to repeat that number. Pay close attention.


Okay, I paid close attention.

If you can't even be bothered to check your facts on something as well-known and historically documented as Gettysburg, why should I trust your reportage of anything else?

The total casualties for both sides combined at Gettysburg, over the course of three days of fighting, were approximately 51,000 -- and not nearly all of them were killed. The total Union dead in the entire battle was 5,291; the total Confederate dead is more speculative, but probably around 5,700.

Over Half a Million American Soldiers died in WWII.

Your math skills need work. 291,557 is not 'over half a million.'

I am sure that our other Veteran on this List, Thomas L. Knapp will back me up in saying that there is NOTHING MORE HONORABLE than to die for one's country.

No, I won't.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

-- Wilfred Owen

I was fortunate in never having to deal with casualties of chemical warfare as Owen (who died in battle seven days before the WWI armistice) did. My analogous experience involved flinging a Marine, with 2nd and 3rd degree burns over most of his body, in the back of a Humvee and then bringing in the chopper to medevac him.

There's certainly no _dishonor_ in dying for one's country if it's necessary, and sacrifice can be noble in a good cause, although I think the higher honor is in making the other poor bastard die for his (as Patton said) ... but the troops in Iraq are not dying for their country. They're dying so that former Bush administration officials can have sinecures at Lockheed Martin when they leave Washington.

Tom Knapp

Original post on the "libertarianrepublicans" Yahoo! Group

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