Memorial: Why Men Love War.
His name is William Broyles, Jr. and he fought in Vietnam. He is also a screenwriter with such films as Cast Away, Apollo 13, and Jarhead to his credit. He authored an article in Esquire magazine in 1984 called “Why Men Love War.”
“What people can’t understand,” Hiers said, gently picking up each tiny rabbit and placing it in the nest, “is how much fun Vietnam was. I loved it. I loved it, and I can’t tell anybody.”
Hiers loved war. And as I drove back from Vermont in a blizzard, my children asleep in the back of the car, I had to admit that for all these years I also had loved it, and more than I knew.
He recalls the lust of the fight and the paradoxical satisfaction. It’s an interesting piece in which he rambles and ruminates about his experience as a lieutenant in Vietnam.
War is beautiful. There is something about a firefight at night, something about the mechanical elegance of an M -60 machine gun. They are everything they should be, perfect examples of their form. When you are firing out at night, the red racers go out into tile blackness is if you were drawing with a light pen. Then little dots of light start winking back, and green tracers from the AK-47s begin to weave ill with the red to form brilliant patterns that seem, given their great speeds, oddly timeless, as if they had been etched on the night. And then perhaps the gunships called Spooky come in and fire their incredible guns like huge hoses washing down from the sky, like something God would do when He was really ticked off. And then the flares pop, casting eerie shadows as they float down on their little parachutes, swinging in the breeze, and anyone who moves, in their light seems a ghost escaped from hell.
He sentimentally reflects on the lives he knew…
For us and for thousands of veterans the [Vietnam] memorial was special ground. War is theater, and Vietnam had been fought without a third act. It was a set that hadn’t been struck; its characters were lost there, with no way to get off and no more lines to say. And so when we came to the Vietnam memorial in Washington we wrote our own endings as we stared at the names on the wall, reached out and touched them, washed them with our tears, said goodbye. We are older now, some of us grandfathers, some quite successful, but the memorial touched some part of us that is still out there, under fire, alone. When we came to that wait and met the memories of our buddies and gave them their due, pulled them tip from their buried places and laid our love to rest, we were home at last.
And in the end, perhaps his “money quote” to answer his challenging question is found here…
The power of war, like the power of love, springs from man’s heart. The one yields death, the other life. But life without death has no meaning; nor, at its deepest level, does love without war. Without war we could not know from what depths love rises, or what power it must have to overcome such evil and redeem us. It is no accident that men love war, as love and war are at the core of man. It is not only that we must love one another or die. We must love one another and die. War, like death, is always with us, a constant companion, a secret sharer. To deny its seduction, to overcome death, our love for peace, for life itself, must be greater than we think possible, greater even than we can imagine. (my underline)
Perhaps this reveals in part a better understanding of “No greater love has any man than that he lay his life down for his friends.” This defining statement from Christ Jesus would come framed between perhaps Christ’s greatest command and his greatest declaration (“Love others as I have loved you”, and “You are my friends if you do what I command.”) As fearful, daunting, and ugly as war is, greater still is the love that is God. That God would engage in the fight of the battle of war to redeem us, gives me pause to consider how He pressed on for the ultimate joy that was set before Him.
Remember Memorial Day and the lives lost on the battlefield. Remember better still the day the war to capture the hearts of men and women was fought on a cross and won because of the love of a Friend.