In a 1968 Associated Press photo from Vietnam by Art Greenspon, a soldier guides an unseen medevac helicopter to a jungle clearing where wounded comrades wait.

Mark Twain: The War Prayer

Mark TwainThe War Prayer, a short story or prose poem by Mark Twain, is a scathing indictment of war, especially blind patriotic and religious fervor as reasons for war. The piece was left unpublished at his death, largely due to pressure from his family, who feared that it would be considered sacrilegious. Twain’s publisher and other friends also discouraged him from publishing it.

According to one account, his illustrator, Dan Beard, asked him if he would publish it regardless. Twain replied that “Only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead.” Mindful of public reaction and with a family to support, he did not want to be seen as a lunatic or fanatic. The War Prayer was finally published in Harper’s Magazine in November 1916, six years after Twain’s death and two years after the outbreak of World war I–but a few months shy of US troops being sent into battle.