mardi, juin 22, 2010
Recently, as have many of us, I've been forced to grapple with the question: why, exactly, are we in Afghanistan?
Oh yes, of course...to fight the Taliban and go after Al Quaeda.
After thousands of Afghan civilians have died, and the toll on our own soldiers increases almost each day, it seems fair to ask: are we accomplishing our mission?
And beyond that -- do Americans really support this war?
My mind went back to quite a different war a few days ago -- one which must have appeared also as if it would go on until every young man was killed.
It had taken me almost a year to look for the weapon we had packed last August when we moved furniture out of my dad's home for the last time.
As I noted here last year, we had no idea why dad had a bayonet. Stuck in the back of his office closet, it may have been left by a previous owner.
And if Mr. C hadn't pestered me to look for it, I would have been happy to wait another six months or so to unpack it.
After all, my sister wanted to destroy it. But I argued that we should keep it, that its historic value trumped the fact that it was constructed only to butcher.
She and her boyfriend had wrapped it in so much cloth that it took quite a while to unwrap it and see the blade shining through the leather.
Personally, I didn't think it had lost it's power to terrorize. As we looked at the hilt, we could make out the date: 1861, the city: Hartford, Connecticut. We think that the manufacturer was one Collins & Co -- but an appraiser will have to let us know.
I have no desire to make money off the bayonet, but I do want to know some of the history around its manufacturing before we give it to a museum -- if they want it. We'll not know if it was passed on to someone by a father, or a grandfather or a widow who wanted their child to remember what it was like to fight and perhaps die for the cause of national unity.
Apparently bayonets rarely killed -- the guns got the enemy first.
The bayonet lies safe in a closet at the house of a friend -- awaiting that time when we will surrender this part of our history, and hand it over to become, much more appropriately, part fo the history of our nation.
Wikimedia Commons Picture