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Consider This

By LC Van Savage

The Flowers of World War II

The films and still pictures of the horrors of World WarII haunt and torture many of us; for those who are unaffected by them, I have serious doubts about their supposed innate ability to feel. How can any of us, even those born way after the end of that period of indescribable horror, be not moved by what those films show us?

And I wonder, how can we possibly give any consideration to or participate in any kind of war at all, after viewing those scenes? I donít know. Honestly, I donít get it. What I do know is that we just continue to war. Perhaps it is a genetic malfunction we earth humans have. But not to worry--one day, I hope not soon, we shall end all wars for good and ever. One day we will blow ourselves up with such a savage and self-serving ferocity that we and our planet will be but simple pebbles, small meteorites floating about in space, landing on some other wandering star inhabited by perhaps more reasonable beings than we. The pieces of us will be picked up and examined by their scientists and placed in museums to sit still forever, and grow a mantle of grey dust.

I am certainly affected by films of World War II. Perhaps because I have memories of that time. In 1942 when the USA officially joined the cause, I was four years old and I remember that period of time vividly. But of course I was a child and couldnít really understand and wasnít emotionally much affected by that war. Life for me was fine and while I heard conversations about the war, and saw men coming home who had sustained hideous wounds, (including a relative and a couple of neighbors) and heard about the men and women who never came home, wounded or not, I was a child and thought nothing much about it. It was just so there, so much a part of every day life, that it was every day life and as such not un-ordinary. And of course, the war wasnít anywhere near my neighborhood and I was assured it never would be, so life just went on, and I, like all small children, lived and played in blissful ignorance. And like all children have since the dawn of all dawns, and as all children always will irrespective of their parentsí insisting they do and will not, we played war games.

I am more affected by World War II now than I was when I was a child because of those films and pictures. I can relate to them now. When I see the pictures of what happened to the six million (and of course there were far more than six million) my heart begins to race and I canít breathe very well for a few moments, and I will say here that there has to be a special place in hell for those ignoramuses who say "it did not happen."

Pictures and films have had immeasurable impact on our lives and it obviously was this kind of media that made us all realize what war actually is; not noble, not glorious, and not romantic. It is blood and filth, disease and horrifying wounds, and it is a gruesome dying before oneís time; it is the very worst of humanity. Back before we could see pictures of the horror of it all, I think perhaps we were filled with a bursting patriotism that made us want to get out and over there and fight the good fight. And then photography happened and we began to think a little more about war, about going off to fight. And then films, and we thought even harder, but still, we went.

But I think when Viet Nam exploded into our lives and we began to see the abomination of it all, the atrocities in living color on the six PM news, it was then that often thinking people, not cowards all, not non-patriots all, began to say NO, they would not go there and do that, and so they left America in droves. It was the pictures that made them do it, made them understand. It was the films, television. There was no marching off to glory in that war; for the ones who knew but went anyway, there was no return to glory either. They fought over there, and when they came back home to America, they would have to fight another sort of war over here also.

And so it was the films that told us everything about war, just as they do today. But films also raised many questions for us too. And certain films haunt me. Actually many, but it was the same theme that I always found so disquieting when I saw them. It was the flowers of World War II. The scenes of people in huge masses handing bouquets of flowers to their vindicators or even their captors. Ragged, war-weary people in overcoats, and hats. No leaves could be seen on the background trees, indicating to the viewer that it was cold then, when flowers could not grow. These people congregated in cities often ripped and shredded by war, as their lives now were. They had no homes, little food, nothing. But they had flowers to hand off to, or spread before, the powerful people who were destroying or saving them as the case may be.

Did they have greenhouses that somehow missed being bombed? Were there florists throughout Europe whose businesses missed the conflagrations? Does anybody know? Can anyone tell me where those flowers came from in World War II?

Copyright © LC Van Savage, 1996-2000

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Reader Comments

Name: Mike Email:
Comment: LC, you are a very powerful writer, expressing your views and memories in a way that leaves no doubt to the reader the message you convey. If only more could read your words, look at the pictures and movies, perhaps we would begin to question our motives. I too think violence must be some genetic disorder, although perhaps it is really the ultimate test which we must overcome... You've given me some ideas to ponder, and perhaps I will share them in a later column. Excellent work, it's great to have you aboard Pencil Stubs!



Name: Shannon Email:
Comment: You have given me something to think about. I have never even thought about this. Very Interesting.



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