Ben Stein's Diary

At War and at Peace

Reeling from another viewing of The World at War.

By From the April 2012 issue

I am back in Rancho Mirage. I have had a terrible cold and bronchitis now for a few days and I am limping through the day, day by day.

But, I am just reeling from what I have seen on The World at War. I know I am like a broken record about this, but how can we ever even start to thank the men who fought at Bastogne and Monte Cas-sino and Remagen and Zeitlen (where my father-in-law did the heroic acts that earned him the Silver Star)? How can we ever repay the men who died on the Bataan Death March or in Japanese prison camps or on Iwo Jima or the Battles of Vella Lavella or the flyers who flew over Berlin or over the hump in Burma? How can we repay the wives and widows and children?

How can we ever thank them enough?

With every breath we take, there should be prayers on our lips and in our hearts for the men and women who wear the uniform.

Meanwhile, what the heck is happening in Afghanistan? That's turning out to be a true disaster. Yes, it's time to get out, but how do we get out? Afghanistan is landlocked. Pakistan is on one side and Iran on the other. The only way out is through the north and I am not sure how much they like us. What a time to be even thinking of cutting the military budget. Are the people at the White House insane? No, I am sure not. They are just trying to do their best as they see it, but they are still way off the beam. This is a dangerous world. It is not time to cut the military budget.

Again, back to that woman who was telling me what a horrible person I am (she gets paid for doing that, by the way)…In the room with me was a "mediator" who was a human miracle. His parents were Holocaust survivors. His mother, as a Jewish child in Poland, had to hide in a closet for five years. His father hid in a forest. Now, he travels the world skiing and doing Ecuadorean river kayaking while not mediating. All thanks to America and to his hero parents and to the heroes who beat the Nazis. Human beings are amazing creatures—capable of the best and the worst. This country mostly has the ones who are capable of the best. Let us thank God. Every breath we take of American air is a miracle.

Speaking of which, here is a perfect Ben Stein hour. I lay down by my fireplace, under my electric blanket, with my heating pad on my stomach. I put Mozart's Requiem and Laudate Dominum on my CD player. I listened. I smelled the cut grass outside. I heard faintly the sounds of jets flying into Palm Springs International Airport. I slept. I got up and put on the radio. KDGL-FM, "The Eagle" out here in the desert, was playing, "You Can't Always Get What You Want," and I thought of Yale in 1970—"bliss it was in that day to be alive but to be young was very heaven"—and I was happy.


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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.