Instruments of War
This cannon has been on display in Miller Park for as long as I can remember. It dates from WWI, if I’m not mistaken. I used to play on it as a child. Now I know what it’s for. It’s interesting to me that we celebrate the instruments of war. They’re modern marvels, for sure. Oh I know the arguments. Without these machines, without the ability to wage war, and the waging when it’s necessary, peace is not possible. Maybe there’s truth in that. But yet, there’s a poignancy about seeing these machines that is lost on most… lost on me for a long time.
My childhood memories of this cannon are fond ones. We pretended to shoot it at the bad guys. We were always victorious, of course. Losing a war? Impossible. We are the United States! Well, that’s since been proven to be a childish misconception.
I find real irony in this picture. Not biting irony, by any means, but true irony nonetheless. Here is a cannon juxtaposed with a memorial for our war dead. The use of the cannon created the opportunity for another country to create such memorials for theirs. Like General Patton said: "Men? Your job is not to go out and die for your country. It’s to go out and make the other guy die for his." It’s complex, that’s for sure.
While we were walking in the park Saturday, we met a man named Seigfried. He was obviously of German descent. I don’t know when he came here… whether he came here to escape the horrors of Europe in the ’30s. But I wonder… how does he feel to see a cannon like that. It had been pointed at his countrymen. Does he feel glad that the evil of Nazi Germany was thwarted? Is it a happiness to him? Or is there a tinge of sadness? It’s complex.
The complexity of such thoughts makes them worth thinking.