SOUTH PORTLAND – We don’t need more war memorials. They are merely markers of failure. The most fitting memorial America can give its veterans is a Peace Department and a Peace Academy. I believe that most veterans would prefer this idea, rather than a cold hard granite reminder that our nation and the world have failed to promote and keep the peace.

Why do we skim off our young and brightest to send them to West Point, Annapolis, the Air Force Academy and the Coast Guard Academy, as well as to the Citadel and the Virginia Military Institute, plus to hundreds of ROTC and NROTC programs in the colleges, where we train them for war? I am certain that many of these young people would prefer to train for peace, if it were an option.

I believe I speak for the voiceless millions of brave warriors killed in battle, many of whom are buried in faraway graves. I have seen many of these brave men killed and wounded on the beachheads and battlefields from Sicily to Salerno, to Anzio, to the Isle of Elba, to France.

I watched the litter bearers carry blood-soaked bodies down to the beach, where they were buried in shallow graves. Their dog tags hanging on their rifle butt, capped by their helmet, served as a temporary burial marker. There was no time for a graveside service.

I thought of their families and their future shock and grief. These grim scenes still haunt me, 70 years later. I saw an ammunition ship hit by German dive bombers explode, leaving only a scene that looked like a nuclear mushroom cloud.

I braced myself as my own ship was bombed. When our ship became stranded on the beach, after fighting off numerous dive-bombing forays and strafing, we were hit by a bomb midship.

Another time we invaded the Isle of Elba in a joint French, English and American undertaking. Hundreds of French colonial troops, together with their French officers and noncoms, were brutally massacred before the surviving troops could overrun the Germans.

Later, hundreds of seriously wounded soldiers were returned to our ship to be taken to hospitals the following day. I accompanied the ship’s doctor that night as he dispensed morphine to the wounded lying on stretchers that covered both the main deck and the tank deck of our landing ship, tank.

Two of my high school classmates were killed, one over Germany and the other in the Mediterranean when his landing craft, infantry hit a mine. I met him days before he was killed. On my return home, I met with the latter’s family to grieve his death and celebrate his life.

I mention all of this to point out the futility and insanity of war. Surely we are capable of moving beyond this.

President Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe in World War II, warned us of the pitfalls of blindly following the military-industrial complex. We have failed to heed that advice.

When we elected Vice President Dick Cheney, who had received six draft deferments, he led us into two immoral wars. Prior to his election, he was CEO of Halliburton, the poster child for the military-industrial complex.

Keep in mind that the Pentagon prepares us for war, not for peace. A Peace Department and a Peace Academy can study the art and science of peacemaking and the causes of war. What do we have to lose?

You have referred to us as “The Greatest Generation.” These are flattering words, but they are just words. If nothing is done, in a few years, we will be referred to as “The Forgotten Generation.”

I feel that I can speak for my fallen comrades and for those of us who are still alive, that an enduring memorial to us would be to ask Congress to create both a Peace Department and a Peace Academy.

Too much of our resources and time are being invested in the preparation for and the waging of war. War has failed. Let us give peace a chance.

Coleman P. Gorham of South Portland is a retired lieutenant commander in the Navy.