Subtley marbled white rock, tall rectangle mark. Here is my Dad. Smooth curve sawn across the top, slightly bevelled edges. The black-stained, deep gouges that spell daddy’s name and particulars shove tears and mucus out of me, unavoidable welling. Can this really be the worldly remainder? A one man Vietnam Memorial to touch? On the back, F 519-D. Your serial number amongst Andrew’s Raiders and men and women. Bookend dates mark supreme joy for your parents and shocking sadness for us other enders. I have to force myself to touch the sharp edges of the summary letters, then almost want to get a cut from the sharpest angles. Sharp like the memory and like the Loss. Time and weather should s l o w l y wear and bevel both stone and grief. At least I predict so. I rest my hand on the top curve, knowing that it’s connected to the earth where you aren’t. Solid and massive, like you were.
I park your silver van on the shade, just like you would have. The wind-wounded tree stills shades your marker on what could be a pleasant hillside. Why must I be here to write – you are everywhere else that we go. Absence of distraction must allow the words.
He is not alone.
Thousands of tragic and merciful end results surround him. Each rock chunk is a story token: a life, a family, and a set of friends who mourn, grieve, smile, remember. Short lives, long, war, peace; all planted shallowly on this great, rolling hill.
Life Force roars someone else’s disaster across the park peak. Good luck to you and your family, Stranger. May your healing be quick and true.
“It is often the case that you and an enemy may both be in position for the last bridge. In such a case as a general rule roquet him, then croquet or roquet-croquet through the bridge, roquet again and croquet him against the starting post, thus depriving the other side of a rover, and gaining the advantage.”
Caroline L. Smith, Popular Pastimes for Field and Fireside (1867)
The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.
Socrates (469–399 B.C.)
The counts of the indictment are luxury, bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect to elders, and a love for chatter in place of exercise….
Children began to be the tyrants, not the slaves, of their households. They no longer rose from their seats when an elder entered the room; they contradicted their parents, chattered before company, gobbled up the dainties at table, and committed various offences against Hellenic tastes, such as crossing their legs. They tyrannised over the paidagogoi and schoolmasters.
Kenneth John Freeman, for his Cambridge dissertation published in 1907
Each race brings its own vices and customs to the city. No-one lives in it without falling into some sort of crime. Every quarter of it abounds with grave obscenities. Whatever evil or malicious thing that can be found in any part of the world, you will find it in that one city. Actors, jesters, smooth-skinned lads, Moors, flatterers, pretty boys, effeminates, pederasts, singing and dancing girls, quacks, belly-dancers, sorceresses, extortioners, night-wanderers, magicians, mimes, beggars, buffoons: all this tribe fill the houses. Therefore if you do not want to dwell with evildoers do not live in London.
Philosopher Thomas Nagel has put it, on any meaningful timescale other than human life itself – that of the planet, say, or the cosmos – “we will all be dead any minute”.
Which paths will you pursue, and which will you abandon? Which relationships will you prioritize, during your shockingly limited lifespan, and who will you resign yourself to disappointing? What matters?
I went cherry picking on this impressive site and it appears that we guilty Americans need to build several more memorial museums. The totals for China and Russia/Soviet Union are incredible, what sorrow and loss. Some figures are war related, most are not.
India and China famines pre-1900, hundreds of millions
Ireland 1846–1851 1 million famine
China 1907 25 million famine
Russia 1921-1922 5 million famine
China 1928-1930 3 million famine
China 1931 3 million+ flood
Ukraine 1932-1933 8 million+ Soviet Union Holomodor famine
China 1936 5 million famine
China 1942-1943 3 million drought
Soviet Union 1941-1945 14 million Nazi Germany Hunger Plan famine
Soviet Union 1941-1945 3.3 million+ POWs Nazi Germany (out of ~5.7 million, 57%) 2.8 million in 6 months
Soviet Union 1941-1945 9 million+ Russia and East European countries
China 1958-1961 45 million+ starved and killed
Bengal 1943 2 million+ caused by Great Britan using Bataan, Singapore orders famine
Vietnam 1945 2 million+ Japan
Cambodia 1975-1979 2.5 million
Rwanda 1994 1 million Tutsi killed by Hutu
Mister White has a refreshing set of information and opinions in his site, such as the most under-rated events.
From the bloodiest three-day battle of the American Civil War comes these two snippets from boys in the 4th Texas Infantry.
It was a mass of rock and boulders amid which a mountain goat would, have revelled, and being subjected to a fire on our left flank, made it a most dangerous and unsafe place for a soldier, and many a fellow reminded me of the alliteration, “Round the rude rock the ragged rascal ran.”
– John West, 4th Texas
At Gettysburg that night, it was about seven devils to each man. Officers were cross to the men, and the men were equally cross to the officers. It was the same way with our enemies. We could hear the Yankee officers on the crest of the ridge in front of us cursing the men by platoons, and the men telling him to go to a country not very far away from us at that time. If that old Satanic dragon has ever been on earth since he offered our Saviour the world if He would serve him, he was certainly at Gettysburg that night.
– Val Giles, 4th Texas
Mister Giles, shown right, skillfully crafted words describing this part of the battle. Read the more complete description. [deadconfederates.com]
His book is Rags and Hope, The Recollections of Val C. Giles, Four Years with Hood’s Brigade, Fourth Texas Infantry, 1861-1865. Here is Giles in 1866:
As the Sultan; son of Muhammad; brother of the sun and moon; grandson and viceroy of God; ruler of the kingdoms of Macedonia, Babylon, Jerusalem, Upper and Lower Egypt; emperor of emperors; sovereign of sovereigns; extraordinary knight, never defeated; steadfast guardian of the tomb of Jesus Christ; trustee chosen by God Himself; the hope and comfort of Muslims; confounder and great defender of Christians – I command you, the Zaporogian Cossacks, to submit to me voluntarily and without any resistance, and to desist from troubling me with your attacks.
— Mehmed IV
Cossacks to Mehmed IV
Zaporozhian Cossacks to the Turkish Sultan!
O sultan, Turkish devil and damned devil’s kith and kin, secretary to Lucifer himself. What the devil kind of knight are you, that can’t slay a hedgehog with your naked arse? The devil excretes, and your army eats. You will not, you son of a bitch, make subjects of Christian sons; we’ve no fear of your army, by land and by sea we will battle with thee, fuck your mother.
You Babylonian scullion, Macedonian wheelwright, brewer of Jerusalem, goat-fucker of Alexandria, swineherd of Greater and Lesser Egypt, pig of Armenia, Podolian thief, catamite of Tartary, hangman of Kamyanets, and fool of all the world and underworld, an idiot before God, grandson of the Serpent, and the crick in our dick. Pig’s snout, mare’s arse, slaughterhouse cur, unchristened brow, screw your own mother!
So the Zaporozhians declare, you lowlife. You won’t even be herding pigs for the Christians. Now we’ll conclude, for we don’t know the date and don’t own a calendar; the moon’s in the sky, the year with the Lord, the day’s the same over here as it is over there; for this kiss our arse!
– Koshovyi Otaman Ivan Sirko, with the whole Zaporozhian Host.
Oh my. Here is a 1891 painting inspired by this exchange, these are some amused Cossacks:
I consider this to be mankind’s greatest discovery: almost all of our world is debris or exhaust from star fusion processes and star explosions. This knowledge highlights how unimaginably big space is plus how unimaginably long time is. Ponder, wonder, and enjoy this image from wikipedia:
Extracts from letter of J. I. K. Hayward to J. W. Brooks, dated Steamer Hannibal City, August 13, 1861.
…Then, as a sample of what is done by some officers, last week a man named McAfee (speaker of the last house of representatives) was arrested. General Hurlbut ordered him to be set to digging trenches and pits for necessaries -note: field toilets, sometimes called sinks-, at which he was kept all one day when the mercury ranged about 100 degrees in the shade. A few days after he was taken from Macon to Palmyra, and the general ordered him to be tied on the top of the cab on the engine. It was prevented by our men, who, when persuasion failed, the engineer swore he would not run the engine if it was done (and I upheld him in it), and as he was being marched to the engine to mount it the signal was given, and the train started, giving them barely time to get on the cars. When there is added to this the irregularities of the soldiery such as taking poultry, pigs, milk, butter, preserves, potatoes, horses, and in fact everything they want; entering and searching houses, and stealing in many cases; committing rapes on the negroes and such like things the effect has been to make a great many Union men inveterate enemies, and if these things continue much longer, our cause is ruined. These things are not exaggerated by me, and, though they do not characterize all the troops, several regiments have conducted in this way, and have also repeatedly fired on peaceable citizens sometimes from trains as they passed and no punishment, or none of any account, has been meted out to them….
…If the thing goes on this way much longer, we are ruined. I fear we cannot run the road or live in the country except under military protection. It is enough to drive a people to madness, and it is doing it fast….