Tuesday, December 11, 2007

War #6, Dead Presidents #26, The Outer Boroughs #6, America #30

The lot of a prisoner of war at all times and under all circumstances is one of constant and inevitable hardship. […] Separated from his family and friends, deprived by the exigency of capture of the companionship of tent-mates and comrades, surrounded not only by strangers but by enemies, a captive without rights which his captor was bound to respect, it is impossible to conceive of a more hopeless, distressing, and heartbreaking situation.

In relatively recent times the lot of the prisoner of war has been made the subject of amelioration, in cartels, treaties, and conventions, which define the rights of the captured and the duties of the captor. The personal safety of the prisoner of war is secured, his personal possessions and belongings are protected from capture and spoliation, and offenses against him are rigorously punished. The measures of restraint to which a captor may resort of the detention of prisoners cannot now take the character of punitive imprisonment

It must be a source of gratification to all of us to learn the provisions of the The Hague Convention with reference to the rights of prisoners of war as they are now understood by all the signatory powers to that convention, and to see that it is the duty of the capturing forces to make as ample provision for the prisoners of war as far their own men. […] This great memorial which we dedicate to-day, the conditions of things which it records, and their contrast with present conditions, properly called to mind the humane advance which has been made even in so cruel a thing as war.

President-Elect William Howard Taft speaking at the dedication of the Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn (November 14, 1908)