by Matthew Sitman
“I am afraid to forget. I fear that we human creatures do not forget cleanly, as the animals presumably do. What protrudes and does not fit in our pasts rises to haunt us and make us spiritually unwell in the present. The discontinuities in contemporary life are cutting us off from our roots and threatening us with the dread evil of nihilism in the twentieth century. We may become refugees in an inner sense unless we remember to some purpose. Surely the menace of new and more frightful wars is not entirely unrelated to our failure to understand those recently fought. If we could gain only a modicum of greater wisdom concerning what manner of men we are, what effect might it not have on future events?
It is exceedingly unlikely that I shall ever be able to understand the why and wherefore of war. But sufficient reflection through the mirror of memory may enable me to make sense of my own small career. The deepest fear of my war years, one still with me, is that these happenings had no real purpose. Just as chance often appeared to rule my course then, so the more ordered paths of peace might well signify nothing or nothing much. This conclusion I am unwilling to accept without a struggle; indeed, I cannot accept it all except as a counsel of despair. How often I wrote in my war journals that unless that day had some positive significance for my future life, it could not possibly be worth the pain it cost,” – J. Glenn Gray, The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle.