Wednesday, May 29, 2013


     It's easy and, I think, quite normal to have mixed feelings about war memorials.  Often these come to the fore during national remembrance days, such as this past weekend’s Memorial Day holiday in the U.S.  We honor, we mourn, and often we deeply regret;  the combination of these emotions tends to confuse us and sometimes it rises up and shames us. 

     A war memorial exists, seemingly improbably, in the cemetery at the Quaker Meeting we belong to in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York (which is the hometown, incidentally, of the famous American General David Petraeus).  At one time, it was a cause of great consternation and controversy in the Meeting.  The memorial, erected following World War I, bears an inscription, “Heroes.”  I was surprised to learn, during the period when the matter was “hot” with some of us, that Cornwall’s Quaker war memorial is by no means unique.  People with differing views sometimes are able to find ways to co-exist and respect, if not honor, the "other side’s" humanity. That sort of thing is central to Quakerism in theory, at least, and long since deceased Friends and local veterans once sealed accommodations and compacts permitting ceremonial visits, holiday decoration and funerary observances.  

     All that being said, whoever it was who defaced London’s Animals In War memorial, the most profoundly moving monument I have ever seen and experienced, must be the Devil Incarnate.

   "All the horses had been commandeered for the war, he said; and though he was certain that some had been kept back and hidden away, he could not get on their track. The second day he returned with two—miserable screws and deplorably short in the wind from a diet of beans. There was no decent corn or hay left in the countryside. The third day he picked up a nice little Arab stallion: in poor condition, it is true, but perfectly sound. For these beasts we paid good money, for Blenkiron was well supplied and we had no time to spare for the interminable Oriental bargaining."  

              -- John Buchan, Greenmantle

Time Will Tell -- Bob Marley and the Wailers (Link)

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