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Thursday, March 19, 2015

March 19, 2015: AmericanThaws: Humanity in War

[After a mild start, it ended up being a long, cold, wintry winter. But all winters end, metaphorically as well as seasonally, and in this week’s series I’ll be AmericanStudying a few cultural and historical such American thaws—leading up to a weekend post on one of our most recent warmings.]
On an amazing moment of wartime humanity.
I’ve written many times here about the toll that war takes on all who fight and encounter it, and most especially about the way it requires a loss of humanity that is as damaging to those who lose it as it is to those they attack or destroy. Earlier this year, I had a similar response to Clint Eastwood’s new film American Sniper, and specifically to the bigoted and hateful perpectives of the real soldier, Chris Kyle, on whose autobiography that film was based (and in which he expressed those perspectives clearly and proudly). Without excusing Kyle’s individual responsibility for his own perspective and words, that is, it seems clear to me, as I wrote in a Facebook post on Kyle and the film, that he was, in those perspectives as much as in his talents as a killer, “perfect for war. Which makes a perfect image for how horrible war is and always will be.”
I would stand by that perspective, on the film and its subject and more importantly on war overall. Which makes this unbelievable and unbelievably moving story, of a moment of shared humanity during World War II and all that followed it, even more striking and worth remembering and sharing. Honestly, I don’t want to take up any more of your reading time with this post, when I can ask you to read that story instead. If there’s a better example of the possibility of warmth, empathy, and even love, amidst the coldest, darkest kinds of human conflict and brutality, I don’t know it.
Last thaw tomorrow,
Ben

PS. What do you think? Other thaws you’d highlight?

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