Mrs. Barham: After every war, you know we always find out how unnecessary it was and after this one, I’m sure all the generals will write books about the blunders made by other generals and statesmen will publish their secret diaries and it’ll show beyond any shadow of doubt that war could easily have been avoided in the first place. And, the rest of us, of course, will be left with the job of bandaging the wounded and burying the dead.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles Edward Madison: I don’t trust people who make bitter reflections about war, Mrs. Barham. It’s always the generals with the bloodiest records who are the first to shout what a hell it is. It’s always the war widows who lead the Memorial Day parades.
Emily Barham: That was unkind, Charlie, and very rude.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles Edward Madison: We shall never end wars, Mrs. Barham, by blaming it on ministers and generals or warmongering imperialists or all the other banal bogeys. It’s the rest of us who build statues to those generals and name boulevards after those ministers. The rest of us who make heroes of our dead and shrines of our battlefields. We wear our widow’s weeds like nuns, Mrs. Barham and perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices. My brother died at Anzio.
Emily Barham: I didn’t know that, Charlie.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles Edward Madison: Yes. An everyday soldier’s death, no special heroism involved. They buried what pieces they found of him. But my mother insists he died a brave death and pretends to be very proud.
Mrs. Barham: You’re very hard on your mother. It seems a harmless enough pretense to me.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles Edward Madison: No, Mrs. Barham. No. You see, now my other brother can’t wait to reach enlistment age. That’ll be in September.
Mrs. Barham: Oh, Lord.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles Edward Madison: Maybe ministers and generals blunder us into war, Mrs. Barham the least the rest of us can do is to resist honoring the institution. What has my mother got for pretending bravery was admirable? She’s under constant sedation and terrified she may wake up one morning and find her last son has run off to be brave. I don’t think I was rude or unkind before. Do you, Mrs. Barham?
Mrs. Barham: No.