The usual question -- who won the war?-- is hopelessly naive.
The real question that needs to be answered is this: Who owns the war?
Who gets to do the moral triage after the ceasefire is declared?
Who gets to declare who was right and who was wrong?
Is it the soldier coming home wounded in body, mind, and soul?
Or the farmer whose land is sown with blood and unexploded ordnance?
Or the families with loved ones buried in the ground?
Or the families with loved ones maimed in body and mind?
Is it, perhaps, all of the above?
These are important questions to ask.
For if we have learned anything over the years, it is this:
those who own the present moment will shape the past
to form the future for the next generation to come.
We need to know who gets to tell the narrative.
Who gets to tell the young not just where or when.
But why. And to whom. And for what.
Who gets to hold the mirror?
We who have suffered through these wars know there is no closure.
There is only sorting away and dusting off when the occasion arises.
Our war never goes away, but that doesn't mean that our children
are condemned to fight the next one.
We need to abolish war. We need all of our stories to be told.
We need full disclosure.
Doug Rawlings is the author of three books of poetry and a co-founder of Veterans For Peace, a nationwide organization of veterans and their allies dedicated to abolishing war as an instrument of national policy. For more, see veteransforpeace.org.