THE AMERICANS LIE in well-tended graves in France, Italy, Belgium, England, the Philippines and other places where they fell between 1941 and 1945...
Shortly after the Madrid train bombings two months ago, a tape was disseminated with the words of one of the strange legionaries in the current terror war against civilian populations. "You love life," said the voice on the tape. "We love death." It was meant as a sort of gibe, implying weakness on the part of those in the West who are unwilling to immolate themselves in some sacred cause.
Most of the American war dead, in foreign soil and in their own country, would have acknowledged that they loved life, but perhaps not life without liberty or the respect of others who answered the country's call. No suicide warriors here, simply people who put themselves in peril when they thought it right and necessary.
In one cemetery in Italy near the seacoast lie the remains of 7,862 Americans who died in combat in that country. Their graves are visited each year by 200,000 people, very few of them from the United States.
The cemetery's gardener stopped his work on the graves and remarked to the reporter: "They have been buried here so long, they are Italians now."
"You love life." A true enough accusation. Many have loved it enough to die for it.
Monday, May 31, 2004
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