“Dying in Vain”: Homeric "Argument of Minerva": An Ethical Point of War
The flowers held in the vases provides a tribute to our fallen servicemen and women. But the highest tribute for those who died would be those who send them to war make certain that they have not died in vain. But as well written by Dan Smith in the Global Beat Syndicate “dying in vain” should not be an excuse to continue a war. Smith explains:
“Patriotism as love of one's country is a virtue, but it is not the highest virtue. Why? Because countries are human constructs, and as such are susceptible to incorporating the flaws, foibles, and imperfect understanding of events to which all humans are subject. It is these shortcomings that, undetected, uncorrected and uncompensated for, so constrict political vision that leaders perceive fewer and fewer options to even the most damaging policies. ‘Fighting on’ becomes not a free choice but an act of sheer desperation.
And the depth of such desperation is palpable in the rhetoric of those who, although instigating armed conflict, do not share the dangers of battlefield service. Theirs is the Homeric 'Argument of Minerva': once war begins, the first to die demand further sacrifice from their companions since they have demonstrated by their deaths that no price is too high to attain the war's objectives. ‘You must fight on, for if you now make peace with the enemy, you will offend the dead.’ “
My comment on this year's Memorial Day would be may those who die in war died as a consequence of a just reason for entering a war along with a just reason for not ending a war and for no other excuse. ..Maurice.
ADDENDUM: The photograph was taken by me on May 26, 2007 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery
Point Loma, San Diego County, California