Motto Citizen

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You can go back to Nuremburgwhere the Nazis held their annual rallies, and where, some twenty years later, the Nuremburg trails were heldand see the blemishes made on the stone from their emblem’s removal. One imagines a worker with a chisel, carefully hacking into the stone much the way language was first carved. Choosing Nuremberg was more symbolic than mere coincidence; and besides, it was the perfect place: there already were spacious courtrooms inside which the Nazis enacted laws that made their morbidly bureaucratic brand of genocide legal.

The eagle’s symbolism of power and strength came from ancient Rome, who first used the image in war heraldry. That the US seal employs this image is not a coincidence, though Benjamin Franklin suggested, but was denied, an allegorical scene from Exodus involving Moses. Our motto e pluribus unum (“out of many, one”) first meant out of many colonies, one nation; then, out of many people, one nation, which invariably will mean, given love’s exercise, even across state lines, out of many races, one. This of course is problematic for some. The motto may also, for the purposes of this post, be applied to rivers and seas.

On October 16, 1946, ten high-ranking Nazi officials were hung to death, not immediately by broken neck, as intended, but slowly by suffocation, due to “miscalculations” in the length of the rope by one John C. Woods, a sergeant in the US Army who was credited in not only carrying out the Nuremberg executions, but over 300 in a 15-year career. Earlier in his military career, JC Woods was diagnosed with “Psychopathic Inferiority without Psychosis,” which sounds like a euphemism for sane asshole, by the US Navy psychiatric board. “I got into it kind of by accident,” Woods said, in regards to how he became hangman.

I’ve never understood the concept behind war crimes, that the same act can be both legal and illegal, moral and immoral, necessary and egregious, depending on who is in charge. That people not knowing their history is an example of history repeating itself is, well, psychosis. The dead men’s ashes were scattered into a nearby river, denying them the memorialization of a grave or urn. We needed them to disappear, so we poured them into a small river, which eventually found larger ones, then eventually the sea.