Essay of the Month: “War’s Haunting Beauty,” Pat C. Hoy II

Grab the latest Sewanee Review and read this fine essay by West Point graduate and Vietnam veteran Pat C. Hoy II. It touches on old soldiers’ reunions, 9/11, Philippe Petit, homeless vets, NBC correspondent David Bloom, Vietnam, his brother Dub (a WWII fighter pilot killed over Germany), and national hubris:

In the last few months the world seems to have twisted more to the right. The sunlight on the cars that so mesmerized me on September 11, 2006, now reflects off the windows of adjacent buildings. I must reach back in time, depend on memory, to recall what I saw in the special light that morning. As I sat in the shadows, inspired by the Burns documentary, I thought long and hard about Dub, my older brother, incinerated in that fiery plunge to the earth somewhere over Germany on January 1, 1945. I knew that whatever beauty he had seen just before his final whirl with death bore little if any relationship to the beauty the al-Qaeda pilots saw in their minds’ eyes as they guided their planes into the Towers and the Pentagon. I worried as I sat there about this current war and about the nation itself, wondered why we have thought so little, together, about the values that unite us and necessarily separate us from other major players on the world’s stage–wondered why we cannot see embedded in those values a call for restraint (585-6).

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