ceased. The last lines of dialogue had been spoken. With the same terrific abruptness that action had begun--it was
over. Someone, somewhere had shouted, "Cut!" And the cameras stopped grinding.
The sixty-four dollar
question, of course, was "Home?--or the CBI?"
Here was an army of men in a state of suspended
animation. They were at this stage, experiencing much the same feeling as in that old nightmare of
falling, falling, falling--and never reaching bottom. They had gathered momentum more than sufficient to bring them hurtling like a -bomb-shell clear to the eastern boundaries of old Germany if need
be. The larger portion of their being, both physical and mental, was still traveling
forward. But their feet were shackled to the ground here in Saxony far from the expected
objective. This was by no means a comfortable sensation. It was too much like being torn limb from
Properly speaking, war is not the ultimate expression of an
army. War is what armies are intended, if possible, to prevent. More bluntly, for the American
soldier, "war is hell!"--and he looks at the Army in much the same way.
He is not part of it because he wants to
be, but because some force foreign to his nature, to his habits of existence, to his
philosophy, his code of life, have made it necessary for him to go to, war as a protection for these
values. If necessary he would willingly perform this service ten times over--but he would still reserve his inalienable right to gripe at each
This griping, in large measure, is his safety valve, his way of letting off steam--a
control. In another sense it is a symptom of his deep-rooted, often incoherent desire to be at peace both with himself and with the
world; and an expression of his anger with anything which disturbs that peace.
Paradoxically, that is why he went to war--in order to be at peace. And he will never stop until he has insured that
As this is being written no one can say how soon that purpose will be
achieved. There is more than a probability that this volume is only the second of a trilogy and that the third--still to be acted out and written--may be
entitled, laconically, "CBI." If that is what is in the cards for this
regiment, it may be accepted as Gospel truth that there is not so much as a single man of it who will fail to perform his part of that job-of-work as fully and devotedly as this one has been done here in
But that is not the point at which these few lines are
aiming. The real crux is that when finis is written to the CBI as well, there will remain one last ordeal--a peace that may be as hard to
perpetuate, to insure and guarantee as it was to win! And, if the GI mind has one preoccupation more than another in these days
(leaving aside, of course, the complex problems of "non-fraternization") it is above all
else, this peace. Yes, he wants to go home! He wants it in the worst possible way!
But, even more, he wishes to enjoy the firm conviction that those homes will not
again have to be forsaken--either in his generation or in that of his children or of his children's
He wants an America so strong in her own right, not merely because of her industrial and farm resources or her raw materials or her huge melting-pot of
manpower, but actually and fully prepared at all times to protect and preserve the peace--a peace which he fought to
win. He wants an America so mighty that he will forevermore be assured in his "right to life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness" without fear again of the helter-skelter regimentation through which he has just
passed. His diplomatic credo is as simple as day and as compelling as the virtue of
Faith. He believes in the words "speak softly and carry a big stick,"--so long as it is his
America which administers the "stick."
For in her honesty, her truth, her good-will, her democracy and her greatness he believes as implicitly as in that of no other nation in the
world. Her will for peace is beyond question.
Her ability to keep it must be equally so.
And this is merely saying what has already been
written. For the American soldier war is not the ultimate expression of an
army. War is what armies are intended--if possible--to prevent.