As this Memorial Day marks the end of the week in which President Obama christened the @POTUS handle on Twitter; and the pundits and the halfwits have all weighed in, with observations from the former and racist threats from the latter; I thought I would repost one of the more thoughtful excerpts from former President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Cross of Iron” speech from 1956. Probably no president spoke with more authority on the holistic cost of modern war. Regardless of your own views on Eisenhower or his warnings against the military-industrial complex, I would ask if anyone thinks these words might inspire any greater introspection doled out 140 characters at a time across the frenetic threads of social media.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron….Is there no other way the world may live?” – Dwight D. Eisenhower –
There’s nothing particularly wrong with @POTUS on Twitter, and the platform itself is a fine vehicle for distributing links to material worthy of our time and contemplation. But let’s not ask too much of the individual tweets by any president. At the end of the day, they’re just sound bites that don’t even leave room for grammar.
© 2015, David Newhoff. All rights reserved.