By Clay Reynolds
First there was the Revolutionary War that was fought by the Founding Fathers in 1776 when they also wrote the Constitution and made sure that the State and Church were separated while keeping and baring arms was okay. They also wanted to end slavery and make sure that marriage was between a man and a woman, but not a black woman. Being good Christians, they also made sure that everybody with money had free speech and that corporations were people, even though there weren't any corporations in those olden days. That was okay, though, because they were all rich and famous and would go down in history. They started the Revolutionary War against the British because of the Act of Stamping and making the colonists drink tea in Boston. The whole thing started on the Lexington and Concord, which were battleships or aircraft carriers.
The war was soon over after Washington crossed the Delaware and hung out at Valley Forge and the British surrendered at Waterloo. Then he became the first president and built monuments in the city he had named after himself. Then there was the War of 1812, which was really fought in 1814, when the British burned down our capital and Francis Scott Key wrote the National Anthem while watching the Battle of New Orleans that was won by Andrew Jackson, Old Hickory, and John Paul Jones, our first admiral. We also won that war, which was started mostly because the British were impressed with our sailors.
After that came the Mexican War that was caused by Texas and California stealing themselves from Mexico and trying to give themselves to the U.S, which didn't really want them because of slaves and because they'd also have to take Utah where polygraphy was legal. We won that war, too, after we sailed to Mexico and fought in the Halls of Montezuma where the Marine Core was founded. We got New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado out of that deal, although nobody really wants to live in most of them except retired people who are afraid of Mexicans, and in Santa Fe. After that came the Civil War which Harriet Beecher Stowe started to make Robert E. Lee free all the slaves, something that Abraham Lincoln did, anyway, when he found out they didn't have to start a war to do it, but not until Grant burned Richmond and Sherman marched into the sea. There was also the Gettysburg Address. And a guy named John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln at the play in the Ford. This caused Reconstruction.
Then came the Indian Wars where George Armstrong Custer was killed trying to make the Indians make a reservation and stick with it. He was killed at the Little Bighorn, which is a sheep of some kind. After that, the Indians were almost all dead, except for those that were later killed at Wounded Knee, which is in South Dakota for some reason, and those in Oklahoma, where most of them near some bingo parlors that they later turned into gambling joints. After that, there was the Spanish American War, when the US got tired of Cuba being owned by the Spanish, who kept sinking Maine, so we sent Admiral Dewey to the Philippines to take them away from Spain, and we sent Teddy Roosevelt from Texas to Cuba, where the Rough Riders invented the Cuba Libre--that's really Spanish for rum and Coke--after a storm on San Juan Hill. After that, Teddy used a big stick and built the PanAmerican Canal to make a shorter distance between the Atlantic and the Pacific and then gave Yellowstone Park to the people.
Then there was World War I, which took place in France and which the US didn't go to until it was nearly over so they could be in on the victory over the Germans, who started the whole thing over Belgium after Arhie Duke was shot in the Serbia, and so we could show the French how to win a war. After that, there was the Fourteen Points, which Woodrow Wilson invented, but which the Congress of the US didn't want because they created democracy and peace and founded the League of Nations, which we didn't want to play in.
Then there was World War II, which the Germans started again over Belgium, although it was first started also over Poland and other places the Germans wanted and which the British didn't want them to have. The Germans also got France, which nobody cared about, not even the French and which we had to capture on D-Day, though we later gave it back. Italy only got to be itself for a while, before they decided to give themselves up to the Americans, but we didn't want it, either. We also came late to that war so we could win it and show the British again how to win wars again and to free all the Jews from the concentration camps. And the Russians helped when they finally came to the war with some American guns and trucks and kicked the Germans out of Poland and other places. WWII also was with Japan, who bombed Pearl Harbor to start it, and we had to help out the Australians, who are also British, and also the Philippines, which we still had after taking them away from Spain, and which we won back without much help from the British, since they didn't have any boats left in the Pacific, and so we had to jump from island to island and fight off kamikazes until we finally used the Bomb to blow up Japan and make them give back China and everything else they took when nobody was looking. After that, the British only had one more war, which they won on their own against Argentina, but that doesn't count, since it was mostly a navel operation.
In the meantime, though, there was the Cold War, which was when the US and Russia threatened to blow each other up and bomb each other into rubble every couple of months for about forty years, mostly over Cuba, which we're mad at and pretend isn't there. No one won that war, because no one wanted to blow up the world, but the Russians finally tore down the wall between Berlin and Russia because Ronald Reagan told them to. But during this time there was the Korean War which was when the North Koreans invaded South Korea and the Americans had to go and show the South Koreans how to win a war, but, before they could, the Red Chinese also came to that war and created big enough problems that nobody actually won. It's still going on, technically, although we're now friends with the Red Chinese, who aren't Red, anymore, but are actually just smoggy, and who make all kinds of useless plastic stuff that we really need.
And then there was the Vietnam War which is when the US went to South Vietnam to show them how to win a war against North Vietnam which was playing a war game called dominoes, but the real enemy was all the hippies in the colleges back in America where nobody wanted to be in that war, so we lost it. Or the South Vietnamese lost it with our help. But later, the Vietnamese went into the clothing business.
And then there was the Gulf War, where the Iraqis invaded Kuwait and took all their oil, which they couldn't keep so they burned, so we went and kicked the Iraqis out of Kuwait although it wasn't a lot of trouble to do so, but we stopped fighting that war because the Kuwaitis didn't want to learn how to win wars. Then there was the war in the Balkans, that really wasn't a war, even though we were there to help show them how to win, only no one could figure out who was fighting who, except for the Serbians, who may have still been mad about Archie Duck.
Then there was the War in Afghanistan, which we started to get back at the Taliban, who we had created to fight the Russians when they were at the war with Afghanistan, and who made friends with Osama ben Laden, who was actually in Pakistan, but who we couldn't go and invade and fight with because they had the Bomb and might use it on India, which, in the meantime, had thumbed their noses at the British and kicked them out, although they didn't have to fight a revolution to do it as we did but just marched around in bedsheets, some dyed, so we don't take them seriously and only let them handle things like customer service calls for our technology. We went to Afghanistan, though, because we were mad at Osama and his gang, the Al-Qaedas, for stealing and wrecking some planes and bombing some buildings in New York where a lot of people, mostly firemen, were killed.
But in the meantime, we also started a war with Iraq because we didn't like them, mostly. And we won that one, sort of. At least we said we did, and we left after we pretty much wrecked the place and killed off a whole lot of people and made sure that terrorists such as Al Qaeda had a place to go after we kicked them out of Afghanistan, which we still haven't done, really. But technically, we weren't fighting with the Al-Qaedas in Afghanistan, but with the Talibans, who, like I said, had moved to Pakistan to hang out with the Al-Qaedas and were just waiting for us to say we won in Afghanistan and to leave so they could come back and start beating women and exporting opium again. But it's still okay, because our war was on Terrorism, not on Afghanistan or, really, on the Talibans, and certainly not with Pakistan (Listen up, Pakistan! We're not at war with you. Here's some more billions of dollars to prove it!). But in the meantime, we sent some seals into Pakistan at night to kill ben Laden, which they did, after they didn't torture anybody to find out where he might be.
Our next war will probably be in Africa, or maybe with Mexico or Britain or Spain or Germany again, since we can always beat them at war.
Reynolds' first novel, The Vigil , won an "Oppie Award" in 1986; his third novel, Franklin's Crossing was entered into the Pulitzer Prize competition for 1992; in 2012, Reynolds was awarded the prestigious Spur Award for Short Fiction for his story, "The Deacon's Horse." Reynolds' critical evaluations and feature articles have appeared in several national magazines, including Chronicles, American Way, and Texas Monthly; his short fiction has been published in Writers' Forum, South Dakota Review, High Plains Literary Review, and Cimarron Review. He has regularly contributed book reviews and feature columns to several metropolitan newspapers; for more than ten years, he was a regular contributor to Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews and has written for The New York Times. Reynolds has nearly forty years of university teaching experience, presently Professor of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas and serves as Director of Creative Writing.