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  • I don't want no victory, I just want you back

       August 02, 2010

    The weekend before last I volunteered at the Mississippi River Challenge. I paddled the event last year and remembered that often the most difficult part of the trip was maneuvering in and out of the rest stops. I was happy then to be put on the "boats" team at one of the stops where my job would be to help paddlers get in and out of the crowded beach. As I was wading out in the water, directing paddlers and pulling in and pushing boats off the beach, I kind of imagined myself as a beach master on D-Day - minus the whole people shooting at me thing.

    I was brought back to that thought this past weekend when I was watching Mason Jennings in concert. Jennings has a song called The Field. It's the powerful lament of a father who's lost a son to a war:

    If I was the president, if I was that brave
    I would take a shovel then dig each child their graves
    If I was the president, and my world turned black
    I would want no victory, I'd just want you back
    I don't want no victory, I just want you back

    We always think of WWII and D-Day in particular as a good war and the that the sacrifices made were well worth it. I don't think that's necessarily wrong, but there's such truth in those lyrics. How many people would have traded that victory for the life of their loved one? All of them?

    And that's with a "good" war. How does someone bear it for a cause they don't believe in?

    I suppose it's a bit unfair to judge a war by that measure - no war would ever be worth fighting, right? But shouldn't that be part of the process you go through to decide whether or not to go to war or support a war?

    At the start of the War on Terror, I think we collectively decided that it was worth risking the lives on soldiers in the Middle East to protect the lives of Americans flying in a plane or working in a skyscraper or hanging out at the mall. But nearly 10 years later, is that reason still valid? Or are we making up justifications as we go along?

    Posted by kris at August 2, 2010 12:55 PM

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