View Full Version : All Quiet on the Western Front

02-09-2005, 02:22 AM
What a fantastic book...I was in the hospital for a few days, and now I've been sick at home for another few days, and I found this book hidden amongst the hundreds (literally) of books lying around my house (my whole family loves to read). I must say it's been quite a long time since I have been moved that emotionally from a book. To me it's a sobering reminder of the horrors of war. Although one might think you cannot compare the grueling trench warfare of WWI to the urban warfare of the current situation in Iraq, you really can. People bleed just the same, people suffer just the same. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time can still cost you your life, and your limbs if you survive.

As some of you know, my father is a WWII veteran, he led a platoon of 36 men into the bloodiest American battle in Europe, the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944/1945. His company was captured by the Germans in Belgium after suffering losses of more than 3/4 of his company. Of his platoon, only him and 6 or 7 of his men survived the captivity of 5 months, starving, freezing, and sick. My father, now of course a 100% disabled veteran, suffering from PTSD, and mild alzheimers, often tells me, upon looking at the morning newspaper about the reports on Iraq, that war- all types of war, is like taking young men, some not even old enough to buy a beer, and sending them into a meat grinder. Now I hear reports of women soldiers, fighting alongside men, being KIA.

Always support your troops, in whatever ways you can. This does not necessarily mean supporting the war itself. When I say I support our troops, by that I mean I care for them, I care for their safety, I care for their mental well-being, I care for their families. I don't care for the politics behind the whole thing. To see the looks of terror in these young people's eyes, sends a shiver down my spine because I know I'm supposed to be there with them. A back injury prevented me from staying in the service, and many of my buddies from basics, and AIT are over there right now.

My point is, I believe that before one supports the cause of a war that is questionable, try to understand, try to see the horrors of what it is really like. When you see someone get shot in movies, they just clutch their chest, gasp, and drop dead. In real life, people scream, flesh is torn off, limbs are maimed, and comrades cry. To see images in my head of what our brave young soldiers are going through, it angers me, that they endure this to remove a brutal dictator, when there are worse dictators in the world. This reason is not enough, it is not enough, not for the sake of democracy to be instilled in a country that didn't ask for it. It is not worth one of our soldiers, not worth one lost arm or leg. It is not worth the utter devastation to the families of our lost soldiers.

You'd think that WWII or Vietnam would teach the WORLD a lesson. The catastrophic loss of life, the after effects, what people endured. The truth is, the world which has not experienced death does not care about death, until death is upon them. When the sheer thought of the current war crosses your mind, does it disturb you, or does it just pass through, as a normality that you hear every day? For most people, they are used to it, but they are not. They are used to something that is far away from them, that has no effect on them, they are swayed by politics rather than the look of fear on an 18-year old US soldier's face on the cover of Time magazine.

Our world is numbed to war, numbed to the thought of death. War should be a powerful word, it should instill only the rawest of images when that word registers into the human mind. But it does not, and it will not, because we are not the ones who experience war. We can look into the eyes of someone who has, and still feel no empathy, for it is the nature and weakness of every living human being- you don't feel sorry until it happens to you.

02-09-2005, 10:00 AM
good post!!!!!!
get well !!!!!!!

02-09-2005, 10:19 AM
That was a great post. My brother is over there now (for the second time) and my heart stops everytime I hear a soldier has lost their life. Regardless of how you feel about the current administration, these soldiers and their familes need our prayers and our support. My sister in law (my brother's wife) has stopped watching the news altogether. Tell your father we are so indebted to his brave service to our country. Sometimes we forget to say thank you to our veterans and we take our freedoms for granted.

Gayle in MD
02-09-2005, 12:17 PM
A very beautiful, touching post. People really shouldn't try to label those of us who are against this war as being unsupportive of our troops. Nor should those who try to keep the horrors of war before us be ridiculed and slandered.

One wonders when mankind will ever evolve sufficiently, intellectually and emotionally, to adhere to values of empathy, communication and understanding, negotiation and resolution, rather than embark on destructive, violent aggression as a means of settling the ills of the world.

If ever a time existed when such leadership was more urgently needed, I can't think when.

Seeing the Iraqis vote, did nothing to erase from my mind the horrors suffered by so many, the tragic loss of human life, nor did it provide for me any justification of war.

We forget, there are other ways to achieve peace. Ways that do not create horror equal to the horror which we seek to prevent.

I am not optimistic about the far reaching consequences which our country will face, due to the decisions of this administration, both internationally, and here at home. Unfortunately, by the time the results are evident, the damage will have already been done.

I hope you'll be feeling better soon. Have a good day.

Gayle in Md.

02-09-2005, 03:57 PM
My 9th grade daughter was required to read it for English class. She was not thrilled because she's not into those kinds of books. After she read it, she loved it.

DG - never read it yet

02-09-2005, 09:52 PM
It's the greatest war novel of all time, many believe. It's not simplistic to read, but not hard to understand.

02-10-2005, 02:40 PM
I definitely will read this soon. It was made into a movie many years ago, and now my daughter wants to see that as well.

DG - amazon here I come

02-12-2005, 12:16 PM
If you've never read "Johnny Got His Gun" by Dalton Trumbo then by all means do so. Like "All Quiet on The Western Front" it is a novel set in WWI. The first time I read it I broke down crying.

Dalton Trumbo, an author, screenwriter, and pacifist, was one of the "Hollywood 10" who refused to testify before the "House Un-American Activities Commitee". In 1950 he was blacklisted and served 11 months in jail.

In 1971 he turned "Johnny Got His Gun" into a movie. Trumbo was both the producer and director of the film version.

IMO the book version is far better than the movie, but then again, that's just my opinion.

02-12-2005, 02:37 PM
I think up until Vietnam, the first televised war, war was little more then a romanticized adventure. In the movies a man gets shot and falls down, they didn't even show blood in the old John Wayne movies. People don't die that easy. I am still haunted by how a living breathing person who you knew just a moment before, becomes just an inanimate object like a piece of luggage, you stare and can't really wrap your mind around it.

02-12-2005, 08:56 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SecaucusFats:</font><hr> "Johnny Got His Gun"
The first time I read it I broke down crying.<hr /></blockquote>I still get tears in my eyes when I think of this book, and when I think of the "Ah Ha!" moment when the nurse figured out he was communicating. It's been over 30 years since I read it. I think I saw the movie, but it wasn't nearly as stirring as the book.

02-17-2005, 04:09 AM
I'll have to pick it up and start reading it as soon as I finish Band of Brothers (the book). By the way, has anyone seen the HBO Series? IMO it tops any war movie or series ever made in film history. It's 10 hours long and I've seen it about 5 times already. It's so moving to me, and towards the end where they fight in the Battle of the Bulge, it touches me because my father was there and went through everything they did, except him and his men got captured.

02-17-2005, 06:34 AM
All these years of teaching lit and I've never read it.
Saw the old movie years ago. It's now on my reading list.