“The Child is Father of the Man” –from “The Rainbow” by William Wordsworth
Woodcut by artist Donald Axelrod
I have never fought in war.
During 1963-1965 I participated in ROTC (mandatory at the University of Oklahoma), which did require regular Tuesday afternoon drill, with uniform and gun, but there can be few able-bodied men less capable for military service than I.
Neither my father nor grandfather had been in the military; Roy L. was too old for WWI and Roy C. had lost a leg at the age of nine, so military exploits or mementos were outside my experience. Also, neither of them were sportsmen, so guns didn’t exist, as far as I knew. I can count on two hands the number of times that I’ve shot a gun. (After his death, I did find a handgun at my dad’s gas station–a defense against the robbery that never happened.)
I am neither proud nor ashamed of these facts. They do not account for any significant deficiencies in my character–though other factors may. I only mention these things because they probably affect my ability to understand War. So it shouldn’t surprise that, of all the various elements of Agincourt that I have designed or tried to, one has consistently evaded me: the court house square.
Two blocks anchor the heart of Agincourt’s civic life. The eastern block is called The Commons, an informal space devoted to bandstand, carousel and puppet theatre–the stuff of Saturday afternoons and summer evenings. The western block–The Square–faces the court house and recollects the community’s sacrifice in various military actions (Civil, Spanish, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf, Afghan, Iraq and other wars). Each of my several designs for The Square has been more dismal than the last. It has defeated me.