Archive for April, 2008

Good Things Can Happen…

The movie Office Space certainly is a biting and hilarious indictment of the soullessness, absurdity, and mind-numbing nature of modern office life

One of the movie’s best and lifelike characters is Tom Smykowski.  Smykowski is a middle-age, middle manager (“I take the specifications from the customers and bring them down to the software engineers! I’m a people person! What the hell’s wrong with you!“) who is edging closer to retirement, lives in constant fear of losing his job, and as a result is perpetually stressed.

Smykowski, generally a negative person, is ecstatically happy only after having just been in a horrible, crippling car accident – because it means he doesn’t have to go back to his office job.  Bandaged and incapacitated, he tells his coworkers that “if you hang in long enough, good things can happen in this life!”

Good Things Can Happen

Cindy Sheehan is Lydia Puckett

Pro Patria Mori

Pro Patria Mori

Cindy Sheehan is one of those controversial, polarizing, and annoying public figures that you are either “for ’em or again’ ’em.” 

I certainly fall into the latter category.  I could forgive her many wacky misstatements, using her son’s death in order to become a media darling, and her false claims to retire from public life and then running for congress after just 1 month of missing the media spotlight. 

But the one act I consider unforgivable is the act of claiming to speak for the dead, war dead in particular.  I just think these dead have already paid the ultimate sacrifice and deserve to be left in peace and no longer used as pawns in someone else’s ideological battles.   

In Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, Lydia Puckett does this for Knowlt Hoheimer.  She falsely claims a spot for herself, no matter how far removed, in history.  When in fact she is nothing, she made no sacrifice, and certainly has absolutely no right to speak for the war dead:

Lydia Puckett

KNOWLT HOHEIMER ran away to the war
The day before Curl Trenary
Swore out a warrant through Justice Arnett
For stealing hogs.
But that’s not the reason he turned a soldier.
He caught me running with Lucius Atherton.
We quarreled and I told him never again
To cross my path.
Then he stole the hogs and went to the war-
Back of every soldier is a woman.

Given the chance to speak for himself, Knowlt Hoheimer makes one of the most powerful statements in all of literature about war:

Knowlt Hoheimer

I WAS the first fruits of the battle of Missionary Ridge.
When I felt the bullet enter my heart
I wished I had staid at home and gone to jail
For stealing the hogs of Curl Trenary,
Instead of running away and joining the army.
Rather a thousand times the country jail
Than to lie under this marble figure with wings,
And this granite pedestal
Bearing the words, “Pro Patria.”
What do they mean, anyway?

So leave Knowlt Hoheimer and Casey Sheehan alone.  Let their courageous acts and supreme sacrifices speak for themselves – and for goodness sakes, Lydia Puckett and Cindy Sheehan, please shut up!