That “War” Is Not This War


I finally finished watching the Burns/Novick documentary series “The War” late last night. Despite the reservations I’ve posted in this space before (the banality of the hymn-like music, the constant march toward Heroism), the project did finally grab hold of me. It is difficulty to watch this chronicle of the Second World War’s impact on four American cities and not be moved somewhere along the way about the ability of many survivors to survive their trauma for decades. I must say, however, that I’m getting tired of all the critics who use that conflict to beat us over the head about the current conflagration in Iraq and the lack of sacrifices made by almost all of us. There’s something crude about drawing this parallel: yes, all war is hell, but the circumstances behind each war are different. It is almost unfathomable to think that if the United States were asked today to make sacrifices on the scale that people endured in the 1940s that we could be torn away from our iPods and cell phones long enough to get through five minutes’ worth of hardship.

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