Thursday, December 3, 2009

Of Trees and Weapons



The picture in the window catches my eye.  It's old.  World War II ad of some kind.  I'm standing on the sidewalk looking in the window of a furniture store, but I don't see anything but this old advertisement.  Too small to be a poster, it must have been taken from a magazine from the time.   In the picture a GI sits in a trench with a small Christmas tree perched on a mound of dirt.  I mean small.  It's about 2 feet tall with small pieces of red yarn tied on for ornaments.  The soldier is reading a letter, I think.  I don't know because I can't take my eyes off a huge ammo clip for an automatic weapon that rests near the tree as well.  
Such a striking image.  The peaceful holiday and the weapons of war resting together on the piled mound of earth.  
A minute later I'm thinking about those WWI stories where Americans and Germans spent Christmas Eve together during a brief cease-fire and then went back to the business of killing each other the next day.  
So now the President wants to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.  If that's all we send, we're condemned to repeat the past.  Deja Vu all over again, as Yogi says.  
I keep thinking how those that participate in the organized murder that war really is rationalize it all in their mind, and with their faith.  
Today I searched for the image that had me wondering all this.  I couldn't find the exact one, but what I did find was probably better.  It's a German image from WWII.  These soldiers standing with this small tree are being thankful for all those who keep them safe.  It's the same religion, isn't it?  It's the same God, too, right?  Do they think of these things?  
I'm thinking now that it is such a basic question, but an essential one.  
And what about military chaplains?  Now there's a walking contradiction.  Do the people who go to church or synagogue or mosque worry about these things?  Do their clerics have these discussions?  What do they really think?  Just asking.

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