I have watched two programs recently about war. A recreation of the Battle of Alesia in 52 BC, where after seven years, Julius Caesar's Roman army finally defeated Vercingetorix's Gauls, bringing fifteen million people into Rome's growing empire. And color films of World War II, focusing on the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Both of them are three-dimensional, detailed, concrete, almost unbelievable. The sheer physical effort and exhaustion involved. Both of them leave me speechless. So many men in history have been in war. I never have been.
That alone makes mine an easy life.
When I was on my way back to North America in 1974 after my year of study in Rome, I rented a car, a little deux-chevaux, to drive through France. Included in that trip was Normandy. I cannot say for sure if my memory is accurate, but I think it is truthful. I arrived near the beach late in the afternoon in summer, on an overcast day. I trudged up toward the hilly area that lead to the sea. And when I reached the top of the ridge, suddenly, spread out before me as far as the eye could see, between me and the water, in either direction, were thousands and thousands and thousands of white crosses. I had not cried for years, but when my eyes took that in, the graves of so many young men, many my own countrymen, who died violently far away from home and family, suddenly I stopped breathing and there was water falling down my face.
Even now, my instinct is the same.
I have had an easy life.