Monday, July 2, 2012

On War & Independence

Washington Monument
This week, Americans celebrate Independence Day, marking the Declaration of Independence of July 4th, 1776. Not so long ago in the history of the world, I know, but a big deal for me and mine.

I'm part of the Daughters of the American Revolution. My qualifying ancestor, Edward Adams, fought in the Battle of Lexington. (One of the first battles - Lexington and Concord -"shot heard round the world" and such.) Grandmother said we're somehow cousins of the other more famous Adams family men, Samuel & John.

More recently, my grandfather fought in WWII, my dad monitored the radar on the Indochinese peninsula for the Air Force, and my brother was enlisted in the Navy.

Yup. We're patriots.

I'm laying this out there because I think I'm probably more like The Patriot myself. Reluctant.

I've got two teen sons of my own now, and I don't like to think of them ever participating in armed conflict that could be avoided by some other means. But, like the movie (based on the Charlotte, NC Revolutionary War area battles) life isn't so cut and dried.

As a writer, I read plenty of fiction dealing with independence. I don't disagree with the principle, but some of it really glamorizes the fight, so when I sat down to revise my action-adventure/overthrow-the-megalomaniac manuscript, it gave me pause. How to portray ALL of the costs? How to show training for war, actually being at war, and avoiding war?

I've got The Art of War by Sun Tzu for the training part, and The Prince by Nicolo Machiavelli for the megalomaniac part, but what about the conflicted soldier?
First, I grabbed my son's copy of Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers. Then local author and  former Marine, Rye Barcott, was slated to speak at a Charlotte Mecklenburg Friends of the Library event.

His memoir It Happened on the Way to War- A Marine's Path to Peace touched on all of these topics. And what do you know? He really reminded me of one of my key characters - the one who fights the fight, and beats himself up about it too. (I wonder if that would be me?)

He planned to be a peacekeeper- even started up Carolina for Kibera to curb ethnic violence in an African slum. But then there was September 11, and he found himself chasing the opportunity to engage, craving what he called the "ecstasy of danger".

His book was an interesting stop on my quest for authenticity. I have to read for inspiration. Otherwise, my manuscript will turn into another episode of School House Rock in my head.

Do you have any other book recommendations? Movies?

Happy 4th!


Matthew MacNish said...

Hmm. I'm not sure I can think of any books to recommend, but it sounds like you've got some great ones on your mind.

Old Kitty said...

I recommend Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy. Its focus is Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon's iconic meeting (a most profound creative Big Bang) and at its heart is the ultimate tragedy of WW1 amidst the bravery, humanity and overwhelming history. Take care

Golden Eagle said...

The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness has some interesting perspectives on war, violence, and power. said...

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