February 10, 2008

Brave Men
Ernie Pyle

Honoring the Honored – Printed in two columns per page because paper was being rationed, Brave Men features Ernie Pyle’s war reporting in 1943 and 1944 from Italy, England and France. In light of The New York Times’ recent reporting on the tragedies occurring when so many of today's veterans return home from Iraq and Afghanistan – the hundreds committing homicide or suicide in addition to the thousands recovering from physical and emotional wounds – the great war correspondent’s closing words ring truer than ever:

Thousands of our men will be returning to you after Europe. They have been gone a long time and they have seen and done and felt things you cannot know. They will be changed. They will have to learn how to adjust themselves to peace. Last night we had a violent electrical storm around our countryside. The storm was half over before we realized that the flashes and the crashings around us were not artillery but plain old-fashioned thunder and lightning. It will be odd to hear only thunder again. You must remember that such little things as that are in our souls, and it will take time.

And all of us together will have to learn how to reassemble our broken world into a pattern so firm and so fair that another great war cannot soon be possible. To tell the simple truth, most of us over in France don’t pretend to know the right answer. Submersion in war does not necessarily qualify a man to be the master of the peace. All we can do is fumble and try once more – try out of the memory of our anguish – and be as tolerant with each other as we can.


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