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Literature raises questions of war
Military spouse
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For me, there’s not much more appealing than curling up with a great novel for a few hours and losing myself to my imagination, immersing myself in someone else’s world.
I’m not picky about genre in general, and I enjoy quite a bit of non-fiction to balance out all of the time I spend living in fictional realities. So if there’s a kind of class that doesn’t intimidate me, it’s a reading intensive class. For this reason, the English class I’m in this semester seemed like it would be a breeze, but I hadn’t quite prepared myself for the content.
The class challenges students to look at war literature critically, from novels based on wars, to Shakespearean plays, to Churchill’s speeches. We’ve talked about the realities of war throughout time, along with the different ways wars have been described in literature. Of course we’ve talked about propaganda and freedom of the press, literature that seems to promote the idea of honor in war and literature full of disillusionment.
This kind of content has been a bit more difficult to get through than I’d expected. My husband made the decision to enlist for the same reasons many soldiers have throughout history, out of a sense of duty to their country — not for health or education benefits or job security, though of course we’re thankful for those things — but because he believes every capable man ought to serve his time. It’s not a modern idea. It can be seen throughout history. The rush of enlistment following Sept. 11, 2001, is a perfect example of that kind of unifying patriotism.
Challenged to look at the idea of patriotism critically, understanding the effects of propaganda and promoted ideas of honor and glory, I’ve done a lot of thinking. But even after so much study and reading and thought, I can’t find it in me to regret our decision to commit to this lifestyle. We’re just doing what those who came before us did — only more safely. And even if I don’t always agree with decisions made, I’m still proud to be an American. Still proud to have a husband serving in our military. Still pledging allegiance to the flag and still meaning it.
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