Dalton Trumbo with his wife Cleo at the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in 1947.
“World War I began like a Summer festival – all billowing skirts and golden epaulets. Millions upon millions cheered from the sidewalks while plumed Imperial Highnesses, Serenities and Field Marshals and other such fools paraded thorugh the capital cities of Europe at the head of their shining legions.
It was a season of generosities, a time for boasts, bands, poems, songs, innocent prayers. It was an August made palpitant and breathless by the pre-nuptial nights of young gentlemen officers and the girls they left permanently behind. One of the Highland regiments went over the top in its first battle behind forty kilted bagpipers skirling away for all they were worth – at machine guns.
Nine million corpses later, when the bands stopped and the Serenities started running, the wail of bagpipes would never again sound quite the same”
Dalton Trumbo – May 25, 1959
“Eleven years later, numbers have dehumanized us. Over breakfast coffee we read of 40,000 American dead in Vietnam. Instead of vomiting, we reach for the toast. Our morning rush through crowded streets is not to crymurder but to hit that trough before somebody gobbles our share.
Do we scream in the night when it touches our dreams? No. We don’t scream because we don’t think about it. We don’t think about it because we don’t care about it. We are more interested in law and order, so that American streets may be made safe while we transform those of Vietnam into flowing sewers of blood which we replenish each year by forcing our sons to choose between a prison cell here or a coffin there. “Every time I look at the flag my eyes fill with tears.”
If the dead men mean nothing to us (except on Memorial Day when the national freeway is clotted with surfers, swimmers, skiers, picnickers, campers, hunters, fishers, footballers, beer-busters) what of our 300,000 wounded? Does anyone know where they are? How they feel? How many arms, legs, ears, noses, mouths, faces, penises they’ve lost? How many are deaf or dumb or blind or all three? How many are single or double or triple or quadruple amputees? We don’t know. We don’t ask. We turn away from them”.
Dalton Trumbo – January 3, 1970
Above are the words of Dalton Trumbo, telling it like it was Little has changed.
And so we still send our fine young men to war – our sons who worked in factories, bakeries or the local food market. The rich and mighty point the way to aim the guns – “the slime that rule, that would have one cobbler kill another cobbler…..a man who works kill another man who works….a human being who wants only to live kill another human being who wants only to live.”.
We are at war since 2001 and there are no demonstrations for peace.
Memorial Day will come and many will be looking forward to the sales at the mall and the start of Summer at the shore.
The Veteran’s Administration is years behind in its basic work – to look after veterans.
No one cares because only “volunteers” have to go. War is fought by other people. Fought by kids from Flint, Michigan or West Virginia with high school diplomas and no prospects; fought by kids whose dads are out of work.
Tearless the enemies of peace.