Veterans Day 2012

Destined to repeat history

Prior to 1862, most guns were single-firing or revolver-type guns that had a relatively slow rate of fire. But in 1862, a doctor named Gatling created the Gatling Gun, which could fire at an unheard of rate of 200 rounds per minute.

Gatling said that:

It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine – a gun – which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease [would] be greatly diminished.

His purpose was to make warfare so terrifying, so costly, that no sane country would go to war again.

Similarly, General Sherman’s widely considered to be the first modern general because of his policy of total war. He wanted to destroy “much of the South’s physical and psychological capacity to wage war.”

To this day, Sherman’s still considered one of history’s villains in the south.

I always thought of Sherman as the human equivalent of Gatling’s gun. He thought that he would perform actions so horrifying that the war would end and no one would ever want war again.

He wasn’t the first nor the last.

In the 50s, the idea was that a nuclear bomb would be so terrifying as to prevent war from ever happening again.

That’s where Gatling, Sherman, and all the others were wrong.

We consistently underestimate mankind’s ability to totally _______ each other over.

This entry is because my friend and other wrasslin instructor, Jason, said that he’s sad to see that WWII veterans are dying off. He’s worried that people will forget the lessons of war.

With every bit of respect to Jason – a war veteran – the bigger issue is that people never learn the lessons of war to begin with.

Sherman himself said it best: “I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.”

It was true when he said it and true now, as are his characterizations of those that seem to want it so easily.

In any case, this blog’ll return to more whining about my bum leg later on but for now, the deepest gratitude to people like Jason, Matt, Dennis, Danny and all the others.

Thanks.

Location: getting ready for work with popcorn popping nearby
Mood: grateful
Music: The old man said to me Said don’t always take life so seriously
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4 thoughts on “Veterans Day 2012”

  1. I am always grateful that there are still people willing to "go to war" for us. However, I find it hard to understand how people can harboring such strong feelings that set you on a war path. Must be the Canadian in me.

    1. I'm very grateful as well.

      Canadians are a tough lot! They beat us in 1812 and also were instrumental at the beaches of Normandy. This politician named Tony Benn said, "All war represents a failure of diplomacy” but I think that's only partly true because that assumes that parties to war are rational people. But you cannot negotiate with a Stalin, Hitler, or Pol Pot, as these are not rational or sane people.

  2. We're relatively …. non-committal – well my generation it seems! haha!
    I guess the assumption of why a "rational" human being would do something like that is my error.

    1. Yes, I think that's the main thing; we always assume that the other side will be reasonable and rational but they frequently are not.

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