Professor George Stanciu is a super writer who excels in various subject areas. Here is a wonderful example of his skill in defining history in terms of narrative. I believe you’ll appreciate his approach in using story to define how we got to where we are as a country. This article appeared at: The Imaginative Conservative as: How America Went to War Against Itself. It is noted that due to copyright considerations two Vietnam War era photos which appeared in Professor Stanciu’s article have been deleted. I believe readers of this blog post will recall having seen the photos which have appeared many times in various media formats. RMF
How America Went to War Against Itself
By George Stanciu
That Americans cannot reach consensus on gun control, immigration policy, and climate change are symptoms of societal collapse, not from physical causes, such as the mindless destruction of a vital resource or a colder climate, but rather the splitting of a people’s storytelling into two opposed morality plays. The stable standoff between these two stories is most likely an illusion of the moment, for nothing remains static or fixed in America.
The Grand Narrative of War
The citizens of a Nation-State are held together by storytelling, which is especially evident during wartime. On February 23, 1942, the 110th anniversary of George Washington’s birthday, my parents and millions of other Americans huddled around their radios to hear Franklin Delano Roosevelt deliver a fireside chat on the progress of the war. The President invoked how General Washington and his Continental Army overcame “formidable odds and recurring defeats,” so that “Washington’s conduct in those hard times has provided the model for all Americans ever since—a model of moral stamina.” He told his fellow Americans that “the common enemy seeks to destroy every home and every freedom in every part of our land,” and consequently each of us must “gladly sacrifice, not only his pleasures, not only his goods, not only his associations with those he loves, but his life itself.” We would show Berlin, Rome, and Tokyo that we are not “a nation of weaklings.” Ultimately, we Americans are fighting for the “whole world; disarmament of aggressors, self-determination of nations and peoples, and the four freedoms—freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.”
Without the grand narrative setting the goal of the United States to “save the homes and ideals of free men from axis domination,” and then after the war to bring freedom to “all nations and peoples,”Americans would not have so readily accepted the necessities of world war—economic hardship, prolonged separation from loved ones, and the deaths of spouses, siblings, and sons in far away, foreign lands.
My parents, born in Transylvania into a peasant life founded on ancient tradition, the teaching of the Orthodox Church, and face-to-face communal relations, not the Nation-State, nevertheless heeded the directives of President Roosevelt. Their grocery store in rural Michigan joined the war effort by becoming a center for scrap drives, supplying free seeds and plants for victory gardens, and contributing to the packages assembled by neighborhood women for local boys who had enlisted in the service. Continue reading