Because of this race, Saratoga is full to bursting with visitors today, and many of them were enjoying the pleasures of Congress Park today, strolling under the huge old shade trees, tasting the waters from several mineral springs, observing the antics of ducks in the quiet ponds, and marveling at the spectacular gardens surrounding the many monuments throughout the park. As I strode along, assisted by my cane, I was struck (and not for the first time) by the fact that all but one of those many monuments was built to honor warriors or war.
Except for the glorious Spirit of Life, honoring the late 19th-Century philanthropist Spencer Trask, there is not a single monument dedicated to healers or peacemakers or human-rights workers or those whose prophetic voices were raised to resist the horrors of war. ALL of the other monuments were raised to honor those who were willing to participate in the death and destruction of warfare. All of them.
By pointing this out, I certainly do not mean to dishonor those brave men and women who gave their lives in what they believed was the defense of their nation, although I cannot recall a single war in my memory that had anything to do with defending our nation. Even many of those who once promoted such misadventures as the Vietnam War or the Iraq War now admit that those wars were wrong, but that doesn't belie the bravery and sacrifice of those who were sent to fight them. And those soldiers certainly deserve to be honored, preferably by support for their widows and orphans or by continuing care for those who were wounded. And yes, by monuments, too.
But I just wonder what there is about our culture that cannot bring itself to honor peacemakers and healers at least as much as it honors those who consent to participate in war.