An etherealgirl's Adventures in Cyberland

Friday, October 21, 2005

jimmy stewart and the cost of war

There's a brand new book out about the war experience of my favourite actor of all-time, Jimmy Stewart, called Jimmy Stewart: Bomber Pilot written by Starr Smith, a fellow pilot who "served with Stewart in the 8th Air Force in 1943 and 1944."

Not surprisingly, Stewart was very private about his war experience, much as he was private about most aspects of his personal life and as is often the case with true heroes, he was not the kind to exploit his heroics but instead was a modest and humble man. He never really even opened up about his experiences to his own family as the author recounts in a conversation with Stewart's daughter, Kelly Stewart Harcourt:

"I was able to get her number, and when I called she was very receptive," Smith says. "Again, these are very private people who don't give out interviews. But we talked for over an hour.

"And she was pleased I was doing a book about her father's military service because she said it was a part of his life the family knew nothing about.

"It was strange for me, opening a window into part of her father's world that she'd never seen or heard about."

She even wrote a tribute page in the book, saying "my father's experiences during World War II affected him more deeply and permanently than anything else in life.
... He would be honored by this book."

Jimmy Stewart is the authentic war hero; the real deal. One thing I've noticed over the years is that the real heroes who have had to participate in the horrors of war tend to understand better than anyone else the true cost of one and the exacting price they have had to pay for enduring it. They let their actions do the talking and they do not take the experience of it or the necessity for it lightly. It's not some sort of a macho game to them; it's not the kind of thing to be entered into frivolously or without grave consideration for the consequences. It's the biggest reason why we should heavily weigh the opinions of those who have been there over those who make policy and case for a war without having any visceral experience of it.

Just an observation of a hauntingly cruel irony: every time I read about Jimmy Stewart and his war time experience, or John Kerry's courageous stance of speaking out about a hopelessly immoral war, after he had experienced it first hand and served with honour during his tenure there, I'm mortified at what we have gotten ourselves into; we have leadership that takes aggressive action with careless disregard to the advice provided to them by people like General Shinseki who correctly assessed the necessary troop requirements.

We have a leadership that never experienced war in any real or viable way and never understood the heartbreaking cost of it. They either didn't understand it or simply didn't care. Whatever the reason was for their failing, they had no business plunging our nation into a disastrous war and no viable plan for handling it appropriately.

Our nation, our 1942 dead soldiers and countless more wounded and permanently scarred by this war, and the untold countless dead and wounded Iraqis, have had to pay the price for this arrogant hubris and appalling ignorance.

What I wouldn't give for a little bit of heart and a whole lot of common sense from this administration. What I wouldn't give for a leadership that had the kind of war experience that the Jimmy Stewart and John Kerrys, the John McCains and the Max Clelands have had; maybe that experience would have prevented a war and allowed the UN Inspectors to get their job done.

jimmy stewart: bomber pilot and american hero
Jimmy Stewart: Bomber Pilot
image of book cover via
Clarion Ledger online

I've got to get this book!

Posted by etherealfire :: 9:51 PM :: 2 Comments:

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