On Memory’s Battlefield: The Pandemic as Our Next Forgotten War

Lights surround the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, placed as a memorial to COVID-19 victims. Alex Brandon, Associated Press. (“‘We Must Remember’: Biden, Harris Memorialize COVID-19 Victims,” NPR, 1/19/21.)

By many standards, World War I’s longtime status as a forgotten war has remained unchanged in the United States since the 1980s. Percentage-wise, few Americans would be able to name a single World War I battle, and the war’s American heroes — once familiar, many still the namesakes of streets — are almost wholly unknown.

Finally, this book ought not to be regarded as a protest. (…) [The] war is over. We lost it, and no amount of objecting will resurrect the men who died, without redeeming anything, on calvaries like Hamburger Hill and the Rockpile.

It might, perhaps, prevent the next generation from being crucified in war.

But I don’t think so.

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