Writers, perhaps unsurprisingly, are among the harshest critics of the word “patriotism” and especially of decisions to go to war. Many express sentiments similar to James Baldwin (Go Tell It on the Mountain) who said, “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” Despite their often vocal criticism, many authors have served in our armed forces. Here are ten of those who risked their lives and reflected on the experiences of war.
1. E.E. Cummings – Volunteer Ambulance Driver, France, World War I
“America makes prodigious mistakes, America has colossal faults, but one thing cannot be denied: America is always on the move. She may be going to Hell, of course, but at least she isn’t standing still.”
2. Ernest Hemingway, Volunteer Ambulance Driver, Italy, World War I
“Once we have a war, there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than can ever happen in war.
3. Isaac Asimov, Philadelphia Navy Yard Naval Air Experimentation Station, United States Army, World War II
“No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”