War and Consequences

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War and Consequences

Postby Dana Sheets » Thu Sep 06, 2007 2:57 am

From this weekend's post is one of the most wonderful sentences of prose I've read in a very long time. In a few, simple words it captures the incredible sacrifice, tragedy, humanity, and absurdity of war.

"I've sat outside the hospital with Pete's friends as they drank heavily, talked about friends' corpses, compared R.I.P. tattoos and fed their psych meds to the squirrels to pass the slow-drip nights."
Did you show compassion today?
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Postby Hugh » Thu Sep 06, 2007 8:39 pm

When I was at university, I took a course from a man named Samuel Sharp, at least that was his American name. He was a Polish Jew from what had been a very wealthy and cosmopolitan family from Warsaw before WWII. He had been an officer in the Polish Army and had gotten out one jump ahead of the NAZI/Soviet division of Poland in 1939 and gone to France where he had been given a commission in a unit of Polish refugees fighting the NAZIs. He was evacuated from Dunkirk by the British and wound up as a private in the US Army Air Corps at an airfield in Ogden, Utah. When he had had a chance to really look at America, he decided that America would win the war since wars were really nothing but a great waste and America could out-waste all of the others put together.

To complete Sharp's story, he went to a movie one evening and saw a slide about sending any postcards, guide books, maps, etc. on cities or nations then under enemy occupation to an address in Washington, DC. He wrote that address a letter saying that, while he had none of the above, he had been raised in Warsaw and in Lodz, had lived in Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Bussels, Rome, and many other European cities and spoke Polish, German, Russian, French, Italian, and Yiddish fluently. About two weeks later, a C-47 landed at the airfield and Pvt. Sharp was called to the commander's office. His sergeant wanted to know what he had done this time. Turned out that his letter had gotten a response and there was a Major form Washington looking for him. He had maybe 2 hours to have all of his gear packed and on the plane back to DC.

As you may have figured out by now, the office to which he was headed was the Office of Strategic Services or OSS, the fore-runner of the CIA. He spent the rest of the War behind German lines in Europe and was then assigned to the American prosecuting team at the Nuremburg Warcrimes Trials. There, he found that his entire family had died in the death camps. But he also met and married a young German woman! When I took the course from him, it was Foreign Policies of the Great Powers in American University's School of International Service, a school dominated at that time by the Methodist missionary mind (AU is a Methodist school as are Duke and Syracuse) and Sharp claimed that his assigned lot in life was to be a balance for that mentality. He certainly was that, and more!
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