General William Tecumseh Sherman made famous the words “war is hell.”
That was the topic of discussion for a panel that was the final One Book, One Community event: “War is Hell: Whether It’s the Civil War or the Iraq War.”
“William T. Sherman had it right. War is hell,” said panel member Tammie Pierce, whose son, Joshua, has served the last year in Afghanistan.
Pierce was joined by three others on the panel: Rev. Larry K. Loree Jr., pastor of Holy Ghost Lutheran Church in Monroe and an Air Force chaplain; Edmund La Clair, an MCCC history professor; and Tinola Mayfield-Guerrero, an MCCC adjunct professor of sociology.
Numerous times Pierce voiced her opposition to the current war in Afghanistan.
“We need to get out of Afghanistan; we should have never been there,” she said.
All panel members agreed that the current war in Afghanistan and the previous war in Iraq were not “just” wars.
La Clair said he does not believe war can be moral, explaining that countries fight wars to crush the opponent.
After the discussion, MCCC student Chris Murphy said he agreed with La Clair.
“When you have death involved, there never will be a moral war,” he said.
Student Travis Trombley disagreed, however.
“You can have a justification for war, but everything has so many sides to it changing and distorting the vision, that it can be twisted in favor or against it,” he said.
Ashley Powers disagreed with Trombley, pointing at the crusades to defend her position.
“People believe wars can be moral, but people have the wrong reasons for war; look at the crusades,” she said.
Student Patrick Felder said he went because he thought it was an interesting opportunity to see an older generation’s take on the subject. Felder’s opinion of the morality of war landed between classmates Trombley and Powers.
“I believe in the purpose, but wish there was a way to do it without the casualties. I just rarely see a reason to justify it,” he said.
The panel also discussed Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, who is accused of killing 17 Afghan villagers. Rev. Loree suggested the possibility of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as the reason for the charges against Staff Sgt. Bales.
Pierce’s son was 10 miles away from the massacre. She said she was blown away by the fact that her son was sent on a mission the next day.
Mayfield-Guerrero, a philosopher, was also stunned, saying it was absurd to her that nobody used the moment to reflect upon anything.
The idea of a military draft was quickly shot down by all panel members. They agreed the effects would be disastrous.
“If they started the draft today, it would be really scary. I would rather have my son on the front lines with guys who signed up,” Pierce said.
Student Brandon Berns, who said he has friends who are serving now, also agreed.
“The idea of a draft in today’s world is disastrous. America needs guys that want to defend the country at any cost,” Berns said.
“I have a few friends overseas right now. They’re tough; I am proud of them and guys like them let me know that this country is safe,” he continued.
An audience question focused on the care returning veterans receive. La Clair responded by saying that America has never properly cared for returning veterans.
“We want to forget these wars as soon as we’re done fighting them,” he said.
Rev. Loree Jr. disagreed with La Clair, and pointed out how far the country has come in respect to returning military personnel. He offered a story about how his father was treated when he returned from Vietnam, when tomatoes were thrown at him.
Students said the panel discussion was interesting and fun, though Travis Trombley believed the discussion to be too one sided.
“It was informative and I enjoyed it; it just seemed they should have been more objective,” Trombley said.