In this weekend edition of the Legion blog, it seems wise to give our friendly readers something to help them pass the time between postings. And so we’d like to refer your attention to this amazing piece of history.
Let There be Light is a documentary made by the American Army in 1946 which details the treatment of a large group of World War II veterans with ‘shell-shock,’ or ‘battle neurosis,’ as they call it.
While the film was created by — and ostensibly for — the Army, it was also banned by the Army and wasn’t released until the 1980s.
Reasons for the ban differ depending on which source you believe — but what’s clear is that the film’s contents were controversial enough that the Army and the American government didn’t want it shown.
“Twenty percent of our army casualties”, the narrator intones, “suffered psycho-neurotic symptoms: a sense of impending disaster, hopelessness, fear, and isolation.”
The film is worth watching for dozens of reasons, but perhaps most compelling is to get some historical perspective on the way combat veterans have been treated in the past and the way that stress injuries — which have always been a part of war — have been historically mishandled.
Which brings to mind the old saying: ‘those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.’