Yes, you know me; but there are grass and flowers covering the scarred fields where we met before. You daintily balance your tea cups, and relish your wine, and you talk small talk with your neighbors over back yard fences. You have replanted your groves, and the grain waves in the gentle winds. You work and play and dance, and trifling things amuse you. So you are prone to forget me. But you should not.
For I am War. Remember? I have called on you before. I have taken from your huts and your castles, your great buildings that gleam so magnificently in the sun. You came to me from your hills and your plains, and the secluded valleys where you felt so safe and secure.
I demanded it. I took you from your firesides, the peace of your quiet lanes, the mills and factories, from the oceans and all the lands that you call home. And some I did not let return. Thousands, millions, did not return.
For I am War. I kill. I ravage and despoil. I am the waster of flesh and brains … and youth. For if I do not take you I will take your son. And I will leave only a stench on the battlefield.
I do not care if he is brave or cowardly. I will sprawl his body by some tiny pool made by the rains. And the curly head you fondled and the smile that lifted your heart will be smeared with blood.
Yes, it will be ghastly.
I will torture you with anguish and fear. I will rend your body until you wish death to ease the pain. I will tear the white throats of your children. On the pavements they will lie and gaze into the heavens with staring but not understanding eyes. I will leave your cities in shambles, and your peoples will strew the streets in death.
Your homes will be ruins, or gaping craters where they once stood. You will search in vain for those who lived there, for one small trace; and you will hope to God it cannot be found.
A whole generation of you will die. Or it will come back in torment, and scarred and broken, with faces hardened by agony and bitterness. And the memories torturous, the hatreds, the broken faiths, the spending of your substance, the losses that even God cannot replace … they will scourge you for generations and generations to come.
Never forget the sacrifices brave men and women made to end this scourge.
Yes, you will remember me. For I am War.
Ed Van Syckle’s tragically prophetic 1939 editorial was reprinted nationwide and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.