Dead men, of course, tell no tales, either in defense of their lives or in explanation of how and why they died. Many of our readers found Gene Smith’s article about the dead of World War I, “Still Quiet on the Western Front”—also in our October issue—very moving. One of the most eloquent letters we received came from Thomas J. Cummins, of Oakland, California.
“Even now,” Mr. Cummins writes, “the trumpets are sounding once again.… And the harvest of white crosses and Stars of David, and the boatloads of flag-draped coffins will testify to the endless capacity of man to kill. The swivel-chair patriots and the street-corner heroes don’t die in these wars they extol so vehemently.… How comfortable it must be, to demand that someone else go out and die for your ‘honor.’ How glorious, the knowledge that your bones will be animated to a safe old age, rather than fertilizing a patch of muddy turf on a ‘field of glory!’ And the only ones who really know, have their mouths stopped with that same mud. On behalf of them, I thank you.…”