That's the common fate of mementos. They're never quite specific enough. No matter what their occasion was, they sooner or later slip free and are lost in a generic blur…It's particularly true, I think, of the mementos of soldiers, because nobody other than a soldier remembers the details of any war once it's safely over….To me, the tiger is…a symbol for all the violence in life I've been spared.
People my age and younger who've grown up in the American heartland can't help but take for granted that war is unnatural. We think of the limitless peace around us as the baseline condition of life. War…is for us a contemptible death trip…one more covert and dishonorable crime we commit in the third world. All my life I've heard people say "war is insanity" in tones of dramatic insight and final wisdom, and it took me a long time to realize that what they really meant was "war is an activity I don't want to understand, done by people I fear and despise."