Thursday, May 8, 2014
What Do I Tell My Son About War?
But really, I grew up in a swamp that separated a Confederate naval defensive group on the lower Chesapeake Bay from General McLellan's Union Army supply road (now US 17, then Yorktown Road). Just offshore, we'd boat to Plum Tree National Wildlife Refuge, formerly known as Plum Tree Naval Bombing Range.
My dad, a US Army engineer, used to take us walking at Newport News City Park, on the tract formerly known as Site of Peninsula Battle of Dam #1 (1862), and one of my favorite places to take family visitors was the Moore House, where Cornwallis' British Army signed papers of surrender to the American rebels in 1781. Hidden in the trees was much more - Nike missile bases, a CIA training facility, and the Navy's underground bunker and next door deep harbor for loading small nuclear payloads onto warships and submarines before they quietly slipped out of the Chesapeake Bay and into the Atlantic. I grew up around war in the 1980s. War was what we learned about - our grandfathers' struggles in World War II, and our fathers' struggles in Vietnam and the Cold War. I don't run from it. I believe that some armed conflicts are necessary. Some horrible weapons are necessary. I'm proud to be an American gun owner, to top it off.
Now I have my own son, and I'm unsure of what to tell him about war. He loves superheros and Star Wars. He loves the Lone Ranger too. He thinks about a lot of heavy stuff, and he's asked a lot of questions about dying and "being dead." As we travel the east coast, our destinations are dotted with history - largely, the history of warfare and of enormous human sacrifice in the name of ideas that were very important. He has seen a soldier's headstone in a historic cemetery and he asked, "Was it a good soldier or a bad soldier who got buried here?"
Now, please understand, I've never had a psychology class or a childhood development class. I've become a pretty good student of people, though, and maybe that's enough to get us through this. Here's what I'm going with:
1. Sometimes the rules are important enough to fight over
2. Sometimes bad people won't stop, no matter what.
3. Some things are so important that soldiers will go somewhere dangerous to make things better for everyone who can't fight.
at May 08, 2014
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