In 2008, Outside the Wire, a theater company, began productions of Sophocles' Ajax and Philoctetes to audiences of soldiers and marines returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.
And whither must I go? What end, what purpose Could urge thee to it? I am nothing, lost And dead already. Wherefore- tell me, wherefore?- Am I not still the same detested burthen, Loathsome and lame? Again must Philoctetes Disturb your holy rites? If I am with you How can you make libations? That was once Your vile pretence for inhumanity. Oh! may you perish for the deed! The gods Will grant it sure, if justice be their care And that it is I know. You had not left Your native soil to seek a wretch like me Had not some impulse from the powers above, Spite of yourselves, ordained it. O my country! And you, O gods! who look upon this deed, Punish, in pity to me, punish all The guilty band! Could I behold them perish, My wounds were nothing; that would heal them all.[more inside]
The Things They Leave Behind. "When the Vietnam Veterans Memorial opened 30 years ago, something unexpected happened: People started leaving things at the wall. One veteran has spent decades cataloging the letters, mementos, and other artifacts of loss — all 400,000 of them." (Via.) [more inside]
This iconic photo of the first Aboriginal woman to enlist in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps was used as a recruitment tool, and "appeared all over the British Empire [in 1942] to show the power of the colonies fighting for King and country." Its original caption in the Canadian War Museum read, "Unidentified Indian princess getting blessing from her chief and father to go fight in the war." Its current caption in The Library and Archives of Canada reads: "Mary Greyeyes being blessed by her native Chief prior to leaving for service in the CWAC, 1942." But as it turns out, the two people in the photo had never met before that day. They weren't from the same tribe or even related and Private Mary Greyeyes was not an "Indian Princess." 70 years after the photo was taken, her daughter-in-law Melanie made sure the official record was corrected. Via [more inside]
On my 19th birthday in 1917, we were in the trenches at Passchendaele... Haig put a three-day barrage on the Germans, and thought, "Well, there can't be much left of them." I think it was the Yorkshires and Lancashires that went over. I watched them as they came out of their dugouts and the German machine guns just mowed them down. I doubt whether any of them reached the front line. Harry Patch, Private, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. Born June 17 1898. Of the millions who fought in WWI, only a handful are still alive today -- and all are now well over 100 years old. With the horror of the trenches about to slip from living memory, Max Arthur has tracked down and interviewed these last survivors of the 'carnage incomparable'.
Is the aroma of burning flesh putting you off your lunch? An Israeli company called Patus is marketing a new product called Odor Screen to EMTs, soldiers, cops, and medical staff who work at the sites of suicide bombings, combat zones, and other modern catastrophes. The Proustian link between smell and vivid memories is well established, and by displacing traumatic odors with a "calming vanilla aroma," the company hopes to lessen PTSD in first responders, and that's no laughing matter. [via medgadget]