[FOUNTAIN]Remember the sacrifices of April 1960

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[FOUNTAIN]Remember the sacrifices of April 1960

World War I changed the concept of conventional warfare. Before 1914, a war used to be a collection of tales of bravery. When war broke out, young French and German men voluntarily enlisted, dreaming of becoming heroes. However, the cavalrymen ―adorned with gold-plated buttons and feathered hats ―were nowhere to be found. Soldiers solemnly marching to the drums of the military band were immediately slaughtered.
The invention of the machine gun changed the way war was waged. Rushing into a machine gun means an immediate death.
New wars became defensive battles of attrition rather than offense-oriented. Trenches and barbed wires replaced shields. In the early stage of the war, French and German armies clashed at the Marne River, north of Paris, and the battle lasted for four years until the war ended.
The two armies dug out trenches several hundreds kilometers-long. Officers ordered young soldiers out of the trenches only to be killed by the enemy fire, and the war of attrition continued. Between the muddy hills, millions of soldiers were killed. The Battle of the Marne River is remembered as one of the shameful battlefields in the history of war that revealed the recklessness and brutality of war.
Among the survivors on the front, two soldiers left their marks for world history. One is Adolf Hitler and the other is Erich Maria Remarque. Hitler enlarged the madness of World War I. Mr. Remarque started an anti-war movement with his novel, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” based on his personal experiences in the war. In the midst of the devastation and shock from the war, Europe began to look back on itself. At the turn of the 20th century, the pride of the imperialism and industrial revolution was stranded.
T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Waste Land” reflects the gloomy times. The poem, which was published in 1922, begins, “April is the cruelest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/Dull roots with spring rain.”
Because of the April 19 student revolution, many Koreans agree April is the cruelest month. The month of April 1960 was truly cruel, as so many young people shed innocent blood. Just as poet Kim Su-yeong wrote in, “Blue Sky,” Koreans had wondered, “Why does freedom/ Have a scent of blood/ Why a revolution/Is lonely/ Why a revolution/ Has to be so lonely.” Two generations later, April 2005 should not be cruel. April deserves to be a month of brilliant dreams.


by Oh Byung-sang

The writer is the JoongAng Ilbo’s London correspondent.

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