Throughout the nation next Monday, Memorial Day speakers will fill the air with florid red-white-and-blue tributes to the hundreds of thousands of young who've fallen in battlefield combat since the founding of the United States—653,708 dead of 43,185,893 who have served during wars.
Whether in "good wars" to defend the United States or "bad wars" masterminded by politicians without a smidgeon of understanding of the consequences, men and women ordered into battle and who died performed their duty heroically and deserve every honor.
Except for a few protestors of the Iraq war, most of the ornate Memorial Day speeches will ignore the horror and shame and enduring costs of war and the inability of governments to control their impulses for killing as a solution to their real or imagined grievances.
Across the years, however, wars and their ghastly tolls on nations and their people have stirred eloquent dissent, often from men who've endured bloody battlefield experiences, providing grimmer perspectives to war often forgotten by politicians who rhapsodize about the patriotism of battlefield death.
●"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." -- Albert Einstein.
●"War doesn't determine who's right, just who's left." -- Unknown.
●"We must conquer war or war will conquer us." — Ely Culbertson (Romanian-born peace activist).
●"War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it." -- Deciderius Erasmus (Dutch scholar and theologian).
●"There never was a good war or a bad peace." -- Benjamin Franklin.
●"I prefer the most unjust peace to the most righteous war." -- Cicero (Roman statesman).
●"War hath no fury like a non-combatant." -- Charles Edward Montague (British soldier turned antiwar activist).
●"When the rich make war, it's the poor that die." -- Jean-Paul Sartre (French philosopher).
●"The military don't start wars. Politicians start wars." -- Gen. William Westmoreland (U.S. commander in Vietnam).
● "One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one." -- Agatha Christie (British author).
● "You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake." -- Jeannette Rankin (First woman in the U.S. House of Representatives).
● "We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children." -- Jimmy Carter.
● "War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace." -- Thomas Mann (German author and social critic).
● "You can't say that civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way." -- Will Rogers (American humorist).