Wednesday, July 09, 2008

4th of July thoughts about peace

Someone on the Mennonite peace list forwarded this excerpt from a monologue on an NPR radio show.

It aired on the afternoon of the 4th. Original airing was on Memorial Day in 2005. The title of the monologue is "Ode to War and Peace", by Joe Frank.

"There are no medals to peace, no honors, no marching bands, no great monuments to peace, no hymns sung, no great odes, no martial melodies, no parades to peace.

"There are no gigantic fireworks displays, no champagne corks popped to peace, no last cigarette smoked in its honor. There is no night before peace, no declaration of peace. The very absurdity of a nation declaring peace on another shocks the imagination.

"And who among us can say that he has heard of the spoils of peace? Is there such a thing as a peace hero? Who among us have gathered with his old cronies late at night, hoisted a glass and told peace stories? What valiant young man has been welcomed back from peace?

"What young boy has gazed longingly at his father, saying that he would willingly go to peace to save his country?"

Joe Frank has a dark sense of humor, so this excerpt is the close of a satirical piece extolling war, in the vein of Mark Twain's famous story (and prayer), The War Prayer. The lines immediately preceding "There are no medals to peace" are:

"What is peace but an excuse, a reason for cowardice, a refusal to accept one's responsibilities? I spit on peace. I lift my leg on peace. I have my dog despoil the miserable garden of peace."

You can read the whole thing at

If you've never read the Mark Twain story, it's just 14 paragraphs long and well worth the short time to read it and the perhaps longer time to 'inwardly digest'. It wasn't published until late 1916, 6 years after he died. His family worried that it would be considered sacrilegious, his publisher felt queasy about it, and he confessed to having suppressed it out of fear. It was published in Harper's in late 1916, while the USA was still officially neutral in WW1. Five or six months later, it would again have been considered unfit for publication. Too "unpatriotic".