takes the novel Matterhorn
--written by friend and fellow soldier, Karl Marlantes
--as an opportunity to discuss the question of the importance of war memories. Remembering war--in its fullness and not as a cartoon of either glory or horror--is often regarded as something important for the well-being of the soldiers who fought in it. But Mac points out that such memories--whether presented as memoirs, novels, or movies--are important for us civilians too.
Without accurate portraits of war, our collective memory will be false and this obscuring of the truth will prevent genuine understanding. Without that genuine understanding, we will fail to be genuinely grateful and, instead, we will look upon our soldiers (which is just another way of saying that we will look upon our country) either with a childish form of contempt or with an equally childish kind of worship. American soldiers doing their duty--whether obviously or only ambiguously to the good--are doing nothing less and nothing more than what might be required of any of us to preserve our liberty. Their example and their memories should remind us of what doing that job (a job that we are all called to do in one way or another) sometimes takes.