I'm not sentimental about war. I see nothing noble in widows.
I don't want to know what's good, or bad, or true. I let God worry about the truth. I just want to know the momentary fact about things. Life isn't good, or bad, or true. It's merely factual, it's sensual, it's alive. My idea of living sensual facts are you, a home, a country, a world, a universe. In that order. I want to know what I am, not what I should be.
No one gets moral unless they're trying to get something or get out of something.
[to Emily] Well, you're a good woman. You've done the morally right thing. God save us all from people who do the morally right thing. It's always the rest of us who get broken in half.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: Two boxes of Hershey's.
Emily Barham: Well, that's very American of you, Charlie. You just had to bring along some small token of opulence. Well, I don't want them. You Yanks can't even show affection without buying something.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: Well don't get into a state over it. I thought you liked chocolates.
Emily Barham: I do, but my country's at war and we're doing without chocolates for a while. And I don't want oranges or eggs or soap flakes, either. Don't show me how profitable it will be to fall in love with you, Charlie. Don't Americanize me.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: You American-haters bore me to tears, Miss Barham. I've dealt with Europeans all my life. I know all about us parvenus from the States who come over here and race around your old cathedral towns with our cameras and Coca-Cola bottles... Brawl in your pubs, paw your women, and act like we own the world. We over-tip. We talk too loud. We think we can buy anything with a Hershey bar. I've had Germans and Italians tell me how politically ingenuous we are. And perhaps so. But we haven't managed a Hitler or Mussolini yet. I've had Frenchmen call me a savage because I only took half an hour for lunch. Hell, Miss Barham, the only reason the French take two hours for lunch is because the service in their restaurants is lousy. The most tedious lot are you British. We crass Americans didn't introduce war into your little island. This war, Miss Barham, to which we Americans are so insensitive, is the result of 2,000 years of European greed, barbarism, superstition, and stupidity. Don't blame it on our Coca-Cola bottles. Europe was a going brothel long before we came to town.
Emily Barham: Dear me, what an outburst!
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: So lay off, Mrs. Miniver. If you don't like our Hershey bars, don't take 'em. Pick yourself a frock or get out. It's not my job to listen to your sentimental contempt.
Emily Barham: I believe in honor, service, courage, and fair play, and cricket, and all the other symbols of British character. Which have only civilized half the world!
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: You British plundered half the world for your own profit, let's not pass it off as the age of enlightenment.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: I discovered I was a coward. That's my new religion. I'm a big believer in it. Cowardice will save the world. War isn't hell at all. It's man at his best; the highest morality he's capable of. It's not war that's insane, you see. It's the morality of it. It's not greed or ambition that makes war: it's goodness. Wars are always fought for the best of reasons: for liberation or manifest destiny. Always against tyranny and always in the interest of humanity. So far this war, we've managed to butcher some ten million humans in the interest of humanity. Next war it seems we'll have to destroy all of man in order to preserve his damn dignity. It's not war that's unnatural to us, it's virtue. As long as valor remains a virtue, we shall have soldiers. So, I preach cowardice. Through cowardice, we shall all be saved.
Mrs. Barham: And after this, I'm sure all the generals will dash off and write books about the blunders made by other generals and statesmen will publish their secret diaries and it'll show beyond any shadow of doubt that war could easily have been avoided in the first place. And the rest of us, of course, will be left with the job of bandaging the wounded and burying the dead.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: I don't trust people who make bitter reflections about war, Mrs. Barham. It's always the general with the bloodiest records who are the first to shout what a hell it is. It's always the war widows who lead the Memorial Day parades.
Emily Barham: That was unkind, Charlie, and very rude.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: We shall never end wars, Mrs. Barham, by blaming it on the ministers and generals, or warmongering imperialists, or all the other banal bogeys. It's the rest of us who build statues to those generals and name boulevards after those ministers. The rest of us who make heroes of our dead and shrines of our battlefields. We wear our widow's weeds like nuns, Mrs. Barham, and perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices. My brother died at Anzio.
Emily Barham: I didn't know that Charlie.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: Yes. An everyday soldier's death, no special heroism involved. They buried what pieces they found of him. But my mother insists he died a brave death and pretends to be very proud.
Mrs. Barham: You're very hard on your mother. Seems a harmless enough pretense to me.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: No, Mrs. Barham. No, you see my other brother can't wait to reach enlistment age. That'll be in September.
Mrs. Barham: Oh lord.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: Maybe ministers and generals who blunder us into wars, Mrs. Barham, the least the rest of us can do is to resist honoring the institution. What has my mother got for pretending bravery was admirable? She's under constant sedation and terrified she may wake up one morning and find her last son has run off to be brave.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: Easy, tiger, that's a tailored shirt.
Emily Barham: Oh, shut up and let me kiss you.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: I'm not your type, you know.
Emily Barham: Like hell, you're not!
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: I only thought you fancied heroes. I'm yellow, honey, clear through.
Emily Barham: That's your most attractive quality. Oh, I've had it with heroes! Every man I've loved has died in this war. You'll never get caught in the shooting - that's one thing I'm sure of. You can't imagine how attractive that makes you to me.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: You're forever falling for men on their last nights on furlough. That's about the limit of your commitments, one night, a day, a month. You prefer lovers to husbands, hotels to homes. You'd rather grieve than live.
Emily Barham: You're not only cowardly and selfish; you're remarkably cruel as well.
Emily Barham: You lack principles, Charlie. Isn't there anything you would die for?
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: Sure. I'd die for you, if it ever came to that.
Emily Barham: I really believe you would.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: There's lots of things I'd die for, Emily; my home, my family, my country. But that's love, not principle.
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison: Emily, I want the world to know what a fraud war is.
Emily Barham: But war isn't a fraud, Charlie, it's very real. At least that's what you always tried to tell me, isn't it? That we shall never get rid of war by pretending it's unreal? It's the virtue of war that's the fraud, not war itself. It's the valor and the self-sacrifice and the goodness of war that needs the exposing. And here you are being brave and self-sacrificing, positively clanking with moral fervor, perpetuating the very things you detest merely to do "the right thing". Honestly, Charlie, your conversion to morality is really quite funny. All this time I've been terrified of becoming Americanized, and you, you silly ass, have turned into a bloody Englishman.
Mrs. Barham: Emily, I must warn you. Charlie's picture is in all the papers and they're going to put up a monument on his grave.
Emily Barham: What on earth for? All he did was die. Dear me, we shall be celebrating cancer and automobile smash-ups next.
Lt. Cmdr. 'Bus' Cummings: [fervently] He didn't just die, Emily. He sacrificed his life.
Mrs. Barham: That was very pagan of him.
Lt. Cmdr. 'Bus' Cummings: He was the first American to die on Omaha Beach.