Commonly misattributed to Plato, this line is originally found in Santayana’s “Soliloquies in England"
The poetic quote is surrounded by a rainfall of wisdom.
"These young men are no rustics, they are no fools ; and yet they have passed through the most terrible ordeal, they have seen the mad heart of this world […] and yet they have learned nothing. The young barbarians want to be again at play. […] but they are going to gamble away their lives and their country, […] Yet the poor fellows think they are safe ! They think that the war perhaps the last of all wars is over !
Only the dead are safe ; only the dead have seen the end of war. Not that non-existence deserves to be called peace ; it is only by an illusion of contrast and a pathetic fallacy that we are tempted to call it so.”
So a few weeks ago I thought I got rid of all the fire ants that had taken up residence in my backyard; oh boy was I was wrong.
The fire ants have returned to my backyard in greater numbers and have begun to aggressively expand their hills. I will give them tonight to finish constructing their defenses and will begin my campaign in the morning. I underestimated the tenacity my enemy during my last assault; a mistake I will not make again.
Above on the first image I’ve outlined in red the currently known nests and marked where I believe others could be in blue.
Phase one of my assault is outlined in the second image; I plan to cut off their exits by saturating the lawn in insecticide spray, once they have no way of retreating and their mounds are wet I’ll begin to pick at them via shovel.
The final phase of my plan is outlined in the final image; In the midst of their efforts to rebuild I’ll deploy poisoned ant food to their hills and wait for them to destroy themselves.
I know not what horrors await me on tomorrows battlefield, it was not my wish for our tentative peace to come to such a violent end. Alas the time for sweet thoughts of pacifism are over now, war is the only answer left.
“A large stack of corpses is cremated in Dresden, Germany, after the British-American air attack between February 13 and 15, 1945. The bombing of Dresden has been questioned in post-war years, with critics claiming the area bombing of the historic city center (as opposed to the industrial suburbs) was not justified militarily.”
You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense. From your ranks come the great captains who hold the Nation’s destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds.
The long gray line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses, thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country.
This does not mean that you are warmongers. On the contrary, the soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
Douglas MacArthur in his farewell speech at West Point
He’s quiet, still, a vigilant statue amongst the frozen environ of which they have been ordered to reside. Hands forgo gloves, opting for heat in the breast of his own fitted coat. Nevertheless, he’s truly grateful for minimal warmth that the foxhole provides, out of the direct and bone - chilling breeze that intermittently sweeps through the sparse coverage that the wood provides. His words are nothing more than a dull stab at comfort, fishing a single from the offered pack, perching the stick between tiers.
The question, whether sincere or just out of impulse in jerk-reaction to an officer’s words, dawdles at the butt - end of the cigarette. There's the flick of the thumb, charging to ignite the flame that is habitually covered by his left hand as he inhales deeply, the burn audible.
Dark optics gradually divert attention from the previous task, to the male adjacent to. Companionship had been sparse, with only himself to blame. Purportedly, a leader shouldn't trouble himself with the babbling of the lower - enlisted, or the tug of brotherhood that he so often witnessed in the most dire of circumstances. In the rarest of occasions, though, there's a fleeting glimpse of genuine humanity.
‘ Well, Malarkey, for one – I’m not ready to go out, yet.
& second .. for you. You and every goddamn one of you in Easy.
♮ (there is only one way this may go and it may be bad)
Brows knit together in a subsequent sweep of indignation. Arms looping at his chest with palm rustling at 5′o’clock shadow, assessing the result of HIS belated order. His shoulders bear the additional weight of another causality in unit, nail beds harbor evidence of formerly crimson, caked & faded to a dull brown.
Lips thin with the remaining notes of muted frustrations ( it’s out of his hands; reasoning prevails ). A subtle frown tugs at both corners, eyes downcast as he steps back to allow the medical staff to tend to the deceased.
Contact encourages him to reign in whatever slackened sense of reality he’s unconsciously adopted in the wake of. Slender arms and a low hum of missed words sharpen dulled senses. He eases out of arm’s reach, warmth lingering still.
‘Lieutenant ( breath caught in throat ). - I’ll … need to report back, as soon as possible.
Before making an official departure, in passing, he rests a hand at the brunette’s shoulder, rendering a gentle squeeze & whispered ‘thank you’.