08 July 2012

Death Before Dishonor

Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo, 1939, Excerpts

They were always fighting for something the bastards and if anyone dared say the hell with fighting it’s all the same each war is like the other and nobody gets any good out of it why they hollered coward. If they weren’t fighting for liberty they were fighting for independence or democracy or freedom or decency or honor or their native land or something else that didn’t mean anything.

You can always hear the people who are willing to sacrifice somebody else’s life. They’re plenty loud and they talk all the time. You can find them in churches and schools and newspapers and legislatures and congress. That’s their business. They sound wonderful. Death before dishonor. This ground sanctified by blood. These men who died so gloriously. They shall not have died in vane. Our noble dead. Nobody but the dead know whether all these things people talk about are worth dying for or not.

For Christ sake, give us things to fight for we can see and feel and pin down and understand. No more highfalutin words that mean nothing. Motherland fatherland homeland native land. It’s all the same.

Born in Montrose, Colorado, 1905, Dalton Trumbo was the most famous member of “The Hollywood Ten” film writers blacklisted during the McCarthy era.

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