GENERAL WILLIAM T. SHERMAN (in an 1880 speech) apparently said: "Some of you young men think that war is all glamour and glory, but let me tell you, boys, it is all hell."
And the author Kurt Vonnegut, who died Wednesday at the age of 84, seemingly caught the absurdity of warfare in classic novels as Slaughterhouse-Five and in his semi-bio called Fates Worse Than Death. Although Vonnegut would deny he drew from his experiences as a German-held prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge, his life would later fall apart with excessive drinking and even attempted suicide.
However, the most startling reason for considering such a statement as "war is hell" also came from news accounts out of Afghanistan on Wednesday where two Canadian soldiers -- Master Cpl. Allan Stewart, 30, and Trooper Patrick James Pentland, 23, of the Royal Canadian Dragoons and based in Petawawa, Ont., had been killed by a roadside bomb explosion.
On Sunday, six of "our boys" were killed when their armoured vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb west of the city of Kandahar.
It brought Canada's death toll in Afghanistan to more than 50 and counting, including a diplomat, since 2002.
And the question remains: Why?
Why have we put our young men and women on the firing line to face notorious Taliban thugs?
Does Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Ottawa cohorts have a legitimate (and honourable) reason for shipping these elite to a country unknown to 95 per cent of the Canadian population?
Are we such a war-mongering nation that we must take up arms and continue to lose precious lives and then label our efforts as humanitarian in a land forgotten by time?
The CBC News In Depth outlines there are three Canadian Forces operations in Afghanistan -- with the largest being Operation Athena with 2,286 troops. This operation includes a battle group of 970 in Kandahar; 35 soldiers connected with Operation Archer and 15 members with Operation Argus.
Other facts include: About 10,000 Canadians have served in Afghanistan since 2002; and the military costs reached $2.2 billion by November 2006 or nearly $1.6 million per day and the costs are expected to skyrocket to about $4 billion by the end of the mission in 2009.
One of the most startling facts has been that more than $1 million has been spent on funerals for "our soldiers" killed in Afghanistan.
The death toll has reached staggering figures, unless Mr. Harper, you believe that the fatalities, including one diplomat, Glyn Berry, are mere statistics which can be written off as some kind of federal expense?
And for what?
Besides Master Cpl. Allan Stewart and Trooper Patrick James Pentland, who lost their lives in that miserable piece of real estate on Wednesday, here is a casualty list which should be looked at and one which should conjur up nightmares:
Pte. David Robert Greenslade; Pte. Kevin Vincent Kennedy; Sgt. Donald Lucas; Cpl. Aaron E. Williams; Cpl. Christopher P. Stannix; Cpl. Brent Poland; Cpl. Kevin Megeney; Chief Warrant Officer Robert Girouard; Cpl. Albert Storm;
Sgt. Darcy Tedford; Pte. Blake Williamson; Trooper Mark Andrew Wilson; Sgt. Craig Paul Gillam; Cpl. Robert Thomas James Mitchell; Pte. Josh Klukie; Pte. David Byers; Cpl. Glen Arnold; Cpl. Shane Keating;
Cpl. Keith Morley; Pte. Mark Anthony Graham; Sgt. Shane Stachnik; Warrant Officer Frank Robert Mellish; Warrant Officer Richard Francis Nolan; Pte. William Jonathan James Cushley; Cpl. David Braun; Cpl. Andrew James Eykelenboom; Master Cpl. Jeffrey Scott Walsh; Master Cpl. Raymond Arndt; Sgt. Vaughn Ingram; Cpl. Bryce Jeffrey Keller; Pte. Kevin Dallaire; Cpl. Christopher Jonathan Reid; Cpl. Francisco Gomez; Cpl. Jason Patrick Warren; Cpl. Anthony Boneca;
Capt. Nichola Goddard; Cpl. Matthew Dinning; Bombardier Myle Mansell; Lt. William Turner; Cpl. Randy Payne; Pte. Robert Costall; Capt. Trevor Greene; Cpl. Paul Davis; Master Cpl. Timothy Wilson; Pte. Braun Scott Woodfield;
Cpl. Jamie Brendan Murphy; Sgt. Robert Alan Short; Cpl. Robert Christopher Beerenfenger; Sgt. Marc D. Leger; Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer; Pte. Richard Green; Pte. Nathan Smith.
Also more than 100 Canadian soldiers have been wounded.
And the question remains: Why?