Failing to Learn from War

A few days ago, we toured the area around Ypres in Belgium—the city is called Ieper by the Belgians—where several terrible World War One battles occurred. The impact of that visit has not yet worn off and, indeed, I hope it never does.

Ypres is a lovely city, with cobblestone streets lined with stone buildings, many dating back to the Middle Ages. The most notable such structure is, in fact, the town’s magnificent cathedral.

But what I just wrote is simply not true … because in addition to the estimated 800,000 soldiers killed on both sides in 1914 and ’15, every single structure in this lovely little city was reduced to rubble during the horrendous battles that took place here, including that magnificent cathedral. That’s the true legacy of the so-called “Great War” on this one small Belgian town.

On July 4th, the traditional date when we Americans put politics aside and celebrate our country’s winning of independence, the president of the United States chose that very day to deliver a politically motivated speech boasting of this country’s ability to wage war. It was arrogant. It was ignorant. And it was not a reflection of true American values. 
Our president embarrassed us.