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The One Day War


                                                                                      Judith Soloway


Good morning, fellow Americans. Welcome to the One Day War. WCDW will be your eyes and ears for today bringing you live coverage of a momentous day in our history. As part of our bicentennial celebration of the Civil War, we are proud to participate in Professor Brainards project, the One Day War

Im sure there isnt an American out there who hasn’t heard of the project. It has been the most talked about subject in our country for many months. Now the great day, April 9, 2065, is here, and we are all part of it.

The weather is perfect and visibility is excellent. There isnt a cloud overhead; the sky is blue and clear. From our place here on the grandstand, we have a perfect vantage point. While we are waiting, weve arranged an exclusive interview with Professor Brainard, father of the One Day War.

-Professor, I know how busy you are supervising this enormous undertaking, and we appreciate your giving us an interview. To begin with, could you give us some background information about the project?

-I am very please to speak with you. At this point, the project is rolling along according to schedule, and I am here to advise on any problems that may arise. You asked for some background. Well, as you may know, I’m considered an expert on the Civil War, and I was asked to plan a bicentennial celebration.. One disturbing aspect of the Civil War, like any other war, was how expensive and inefficient it was. Using our modern day technology, we are able to reconstruct one battle that is the equivalent of all the battles fought during the entire war! The major expenses in any war involve the movement of troops and machinery, medical equipment and personnel, and burial expenses. Doing all this during wartime is difficult, expensive, and inefficient. Given our cultural and scientific development these past two hundred years, there was no reason we couldnt produce the same effect at a fraction of the cost. The most brilliant part of the plan was the most obvious: why not bury the soldiers right on the battlefield and eliminate a lot of cost and trouble? The battlefield becomes the cemetery. Once we settles on this idea, the other details fell into place.

An assembly line procedure was adopted. The computer chose the soldiers. We hired digging crews, masons, gardeners, and florists. We saved a tremendous amount of money by not needing any war machinery except for one revolver per soldier. Naturally, there was no need for medical teams and supplies. The families of the soldiers knew well in advance, so they could plan accordingly and put their personal affairs in order.

-Did you encounter any difficulties with the plan?

-A little, at first. Some members of Congress thought the plan was inhumane. I explained to them that the net result was the same as waging the war for four years at a greater expense and inconvenience to the general population. Moreover, there would be no involvement with civilians whatsoever ? no attacks, no burning of houses, no families killed by marauding soldiers. They agreed unanimously that my plan was safer, more efficient and more humane that the Civil War.

We did encounter a strong objection form the Western Union lobby in Washington. They would be losing revenue from the telegrams usually sent to the families of the soldiers. We worked out an agreement allowing the company to manufacture the small American flags that will be given to each family.

And now, Professor Brainard, after months of planning, your project is about to become a reality. Thank you, Professor. I know I speak for the entire nation when I salute you as a remarkable man and a true patriot.

Its 8:30, and we are almost ready for the project to get under way. Before us on this immense battlefield, stretched out for miles, are the two opposing armies. The soldiers stand at attention in neat rows, an army of blue facing an army of gray. They stand very still like marble statues. On our left, we can see the digging machines and their crews waiting silently. Behind them are the masons and gardeners. On our right, we can see the florists.

Here in the grandstand are all the dignitaries: the President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, Senate Majority Leader, members of the Cabinet, the Supreme Court Justices and representatives of the Armed Forces.

We all rise for our National Anthem. The President approaches the podium. When he gives the signal, the band will play Taps, and on the last note of the Taps, watch the soldiers.

With military precision, each man withdraws his pistol, places it to his temple, and in unison 204,000 shots ring out. The noise is deafening like a huge explosion. Gunsmoke fills the air. The sky is now gray as if a strom has suddenly blown in. The field is very quiet. The rows of gray and blue fallen bodies are now irregular. I guess its hard to plan a perfect fall even with intensive training and devotion to ones country. The soldiers have done their part. Now its time for the rest of the team to go to work.

The grandstand viewers file out of their seats and into the waiting limousines. The President shakes Professor Brainards hand. As the last officials leave, the digging machines and their crews move onto the field. They work from left to right digging each trench, burying each body, and leveling the ground. The stone masons follow. They place a stone at each soldiers grave. Every stone has already been engraved with the soldiers name and dates of birth and death. The crews work efficiently, row after row. The landscapers follow the masons. They place strips of sod over the newly dug earth. Now the florists unload their trucks and put fresh floral bouquets on each grave.

We are watching the final phase of the One Day War. The digging crews have left the field, the masons have gone, the florists are leaving, and the buses of widows and orphans are arriving. All the families of the soldiers will be here at the same time. They have all been transported here at government expense. They file out onto the field. The ushers and hostesses, dressed in tuxedos and long gowns, direct each family to its particular gravesite. Each family receives an identification tag and a small American flag. The military band is playing When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again. We all stand at attention as a gentle breeze blows over the field.

It is truly amazing what American ingenuity can accomplish. This morning what was an ordinary field has been transformed into a military cemetery. It has been a beautiful day! I’ve been honored to help bring this momentous project into your homes. Yes, its been a perfect day. Good night, Americans. Sleep well.