What does it take to have a war?
Some times a children's picture book can be more profound than the greatest philosopher. A children's book puts into pictures and words concepts that are easily confused and manipulated by politicians and warmongers.
Trinka Hayes Nobel's book The Last Brother should be required reading every Memorial Day as we look over those miles and miles of graves in Arlington Cemetery. Set on the eve of the battle of Gettysburg, The Last Brother tells the story of eleven year old Davy who is serving as bugle boy for his sixteen year old brother's regiment. Their two older brothers had already been killed. When the regiment arrives on Cemetery Ridge Davy wanders off and happens to meet a reb bugle boy Orlee. They share stories, they go fishing, and they become friends.
That night Gabe can't sleep. He worries about his brother and the battle looming. He worries about Orlee and what will happen when the troops fight. When the actual battle comes, it is worse then he imagined. His brother disappeares into the gun smoke. The Major's horse that shielded him is wounded. Up ahead he can see thousands of Confederate soldiers charging forward under Pickett. What would you do if you were Davy? Sound the charge? Sound retreat? Or something different?
Davy does something different. Read the book and find out what he does and think about whether you agree with what he did. And then think about the fact that millions have died in war - worse millions continue to die. For this horror to end we need to do something different.
What about educating our children that war is wrong? What about teaching our children to love all people no matter how different? What about teaching our children to never volunteer to go as soldiers?
My father fought in World War II. He survived the Battle of the Bulge, fought his way across France and Germany, crossed the Rhine in a rubber boat, and was one of the first American soldiers to enter Dachau. He was one of three men who came back from his original regiment. He taught me that war was wrong. It kills one's soul. His hands, he said, would always be covered with blood. No more wars, he said, and cried when the wars didn't stop.
Imagine your child as a soldier. Killing to order.
Imagine that child not coming home or coming home soulless.
A new song, Zor and Zam by the Monkees, has been added to our music page. It's an oldie but worth singing again.