“A Memory of Solferino” by Henry Dunant

This story takes us back to the Battle of Solferino, which was part of Italy’s Second War for Independence. It was the last battle of large magnitude in the war and from the account of Henry Dunant, was equal in its carnage. Dunant goes into immense detail, describing the size of the French-Sardinian Army and the Austrian Army and how they together equated over 300,000 men. Dunant would also describe the gruesome deaths witnessed and the stories of heads being ripped from the owner by cannonballs, stomachs being gashed open with sabers, and heads being smashed by rocks. He described how the nurses, who were women, were seen running into the field to help the wounded soldiers and themselves being killed or caught in the cross fire. He even brings up the animals of soldiers and how they seemed to as into the war as their owners. Dunant was also quick to point out how it seemed the horses were more empathetic to the men laying on the ground and would carefully avoid while the men, sometimes of the same side, were so overcome with adrenaline and war they would trample the men lying to death. The following days and weeks after the battle were when you are able to truly see the disaster. Thousands of people lie in agony and thousands more lay dead in the fields. Dunant saw the townspeople down their part in helping the wounded and in need.  It was this horrific and long battle that would help inspire Henry Dunant to organize and start the Red Cross who’s sole purpose would be to relieve the pain and suffering of war as effective as possible. Its also a call to action to us to do what we can. As long as war exists there will always be some sort of suffering and people in need and we should not be so comfortable with turning our backs to them.

Thoughts on “Killing Civilians” so Far

did not expect to like “Killing Civilians” quite honestly. It came off to me as a “textbook style” type of book and just list statistics and facts that I would remember for the discussion and forget after. However, after reading through it more, I have come to really enjoy the book. Not enjoy as in enjoying reading about the suffering and misery brought upon innocent people but enjoy in that its expanding my knowledge and empathy towards the victims of war. Chapter 2 has been the most noteworthy to me since beginning the book. The personal accounts the author laces between the never-ending pages of facts and statistics really helps make it personal for the reader. The stories of survivors and witnesses of rape, genocide, and mass murder really make you connect more than you thought you would, at least for me it did. One excerpt from the book “Sex Slaves” by Louise Brown about a young girl named Shana who was a sex slave in Southeast Asia really rattled me. It told how she no longer works as a sex worker not because she’s moved on to better things but simply because she is going to die from a disease she contracted from her work. This is just utterly sad and helps open your eyes to the fact this practice still goes on today and we seem to benching to stop it.

Another aspect of this novel that is wonderful to me is how it opened my eyes to how American soldiers are sometimes no better than the “savages” we see on the news who are fighting wars elsewhere in the world. There are accounts of american soldiers, especially during the Vietnam Conflict, raping and decimating entire villages simply because the could. This shocked me in a sense that I always held our standards higher than others and to read and find out that we have people who do the same, if not worse, atrocities we shame others for doing was just disappointing to read.

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