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William C. Altreuter
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Monday, October 23, 2017

Upcoming, a trip to NOLA with the Academy of Hospitality Industry Attorneys. The meeting will include a visit to the National World War II Museum, which I'm somewhat ambivalent about. I have mentioned in the past that I believe Slaughterhouse Five may be the finest American novel about the WWII experience, and the reason that I feel this way is that Vonnegut never tries to pretend that the experience of the war was anything other than horrific. Fairly early on he tells a story about visiting a friend from the Army whose wife becomes agitated and angry over the course of the evening. She finally erupts and says, "You were all babies," meaning, of course, that all of the combatants were children, sent to be killed. Mailer's point in The Naked and the Dead was similar: the absurdity of the war for him is embodied in the pointless scouting mission that accomplishes nothing and ends with the retreat from the wasp's nest, but unlike Mailer Vonnegut does not try to pretend that there is any point to individual acts of resistance.  Slaughterhouse Five's subtitle is The Childrens' Crusade and he does not mean it ironically.

So, for me, romanticizing wars is an abomination, and grief should be a private thing. There are the children who are sent to be killed, and when I see a soldier or a sailor in an airport or something I do not feel a stirring of patriotism. I don't think, "Thank you for your service." I think, "You poor dumb bastard," and then I think about the men who are taking those young lives, those babies, and I think, "You monsters."

This piece, about why WWI is seldom depicted in film makes a good point. It is harder to romanticize that war. 

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