Thank you, Night Listener:
Ironic, to hear now such impassioned words about sacrifice and world hunger expressed concerning a war, World War II, in this case. No pleas to fly more or go shopping at the mall. Time has a way of at once distancing but legitimizing a piece like "What Price Victory." A fairly gauche line, for instance, about "Joe" wanting an apple tree, a reference to a popular ballad of the time, takes on an air of real poetry.
The difference between then and now is that, back then, though the troops died in the same way (and in much greater numbers), there was something real and important behind the waging of the war, over and beyond geopolitics. Above whatever mistakes and venality led to the war, it was a declared war, one we we were not led into by cowboys and the lies they told.
[We have not fought "a war" since WWII, it seems to me, which has been Constitutionally engaged in.]
The purpose of these U.S. Bond Drives in September 1945, of course, was to pay off a substantial portion of American participation in World War II, and amazingly a few war profiteers to one side, an overwhelming portion of the American populace did help finance the War. I can remember my parents, Scots immigrants, counting the War Bonds they had bought over those years, debating sometimes if our Government still needed the money, whether it would be okay to turn them in, to collect the interest on them, in 1956.
Orson Welles contributes his superb vocal instrument to the cause my parents and tens of millions of other Americans joined in "to support the troops." And Frank Sinatra provides a fitting close to the segment by singing "The House I Live In," with its references to a better, a more just world, a more democratic America, where racism and anti-semitism will not be encouraged . A double irony, then, that in a few years, almost everyone connected to that song (and an award-winning short film later featuring it) would be black-listed, or find his/her career inexplicibly in decline.
In a peculiar way, we are on the edge of a similar decisive chasm right now, I think. Will we return to the hopes that Welles and Sinatra expressed, or having had a "Seven Years War," will we double down for a "Thirty Years War," and then a "Hundred Years War"?
I'm pretty sure we know what Orson Welles would have answered.