Many of us ignore the original point of Memorial Day and spend it shopping instead. I get that. I’m not big on remembering sad things like deaths, and military deaths are not less sad to me than other deaths. Visiting graveyards is no comfort to me, and the military cemetery where my father’s grave is has only horror for me, looking as it does like a crop of fine young men and women in rows like a cornfield.
It was pure coincidence that we went to disport ourselves at a battlefield on Memorial Day weekend.
The Civil War was both one of the closest things to a just war imaginable and also one of the most pointless displays of carnage imaginable. Fewer than 5,000 American soldiers died in the war in Iraq. About 2,500 died in a since battle in the fields and orchards of Prairie Grove.
And of course there were far more casualties from disease and infection than in battles during the Civil War.
So there is something strange about going and playing with augmented reality at the site where so many people experienced fear, pain, panic, and grief just 150 years ago.
Does knowing our history make it less likely that we will repeat it? I’m not sure that it does. We still need to know it, of course, but I think of Leonard of Quirm, a character in the Discworld novels who creates deadly weapons with no recognition that they could be used in that way. Also of young boys, who can make anything into a weapon: popcorn, flowers, dolls — you name it.
We are apparently designed to be dangerous.
Battlefield Park is a beautiful place, though.