We associate rock music most with anger, if you've heard the loud bangs and the garble that these "artists" sing. But in attending the National Symphony Orchestra's concert at the Koger Center for the Arts Tuesday night, I wondered why William Schuman's Prayer in the Time of War composed an element which the program states Mr. Schuman found no element in glory, and even took a solemn theme.
But at the time it debuted in 1943, and the reason for its composition in 1942, and the other war music, I wondered the similarities and differences between then and now.
The United States was at war with a clear enemy in 1941 when our bases in Pearl Harbor were attacked by bombers of the Tojo régime dead-set on attacking us. The next day, the country, after having the defense give up a touchdown (the attack on Pearl Harbor), decided to go on the offense, where we continued until victory. In 2001, the United States, after playing a hard "peace dividend" and giving up the necessities of protecting the nation (lost many bases; military was converted for other unauthorised uses), found the lack of defense led to the attacks on September 11, with a commerce building and defense building destroyed, and the potential of a major government building being attacked by Al Qaeda homicide bombers. The offense started attacking terrorists afterwards.
Textbooks today glorify the one Congresswoman who voted not to authorise the nation to go on offense, and defeated; her peace activism is more glorified than the heroes who fought in Guadalcanal, Midway, and our victories in both Europe and Asia (the United States was forced to war when Germany, like Japan, declared war on the United States). The modern liberal thought is to glorify the one Congresswoman who refused to support the war.
When I listen to compositions composed during wartime, I expect an aggressive march to symbolise our troops in the fight of their lives against the enemy of enemies, and from the fight to a long tussle, and then to victory. Cheerful compositions reminding us of the victory ahead meant much to the troops. Think about the major rock hits that taught an anti-war message, and did not preach to America the sign that victory against Communism was a must, as it should.
While walking from the parking lot to the concert hall, I saw signs endorsing a pullout from Iraq, and they defended it by saying the Americans lost nothing and did not lose the war by pulling out of Vietnam. Unfortunately, they do not understand that the pullout led to the confidence of the Communists, who ransacked South Vietnam, and later took over the entire nation. The victory of the Communists was a major confidence-booster, which led to major takeovers by the Left in other nations, knowing the Free World would not fight. That win gave us dictatorships in Nicaragua, Granada (shot down by the US), Angola, and even dictatorships in Iran.
Who knows if the Americans pull out of Iraq what will happen. But it's clear dictatorships and terrorists would use it as a sign of our weakness, just like what happened 35 years ago after the fall of Vietnam. To modern liberalism, keeping self-esteem means more, and losing is acceptable. That is unacceptable when we are at war.
The only think that matters when we are fighting the enemy is to go for the win.
As for the music from the hall, I wonder how Leonard Slatkin altered Ravel's interpretation of Pictures at an Exhibition. Is it correct for a conductor to change it to run the real meaning of the work? I wonder why he altered it considerably from what it really is intended to be.