One of many Memorial Day posts on weblogs today,
One of many people saddened every day by the continuing war in Iraq,
One of many families affected by war and how it changes us all,
One of many struggling to teach my children that, although war is not the answer, it is still important to honor those who sacrifice their own safety and comfort to serve in the military.
My father is a Vietnam veteran. His experiences, while he has never spoken to anyone in our family about them, changed him profoundly and, in turn, colored the father he would become, the husband he was, and the way he looked at life forever after.
My mother was born and lived the first few years of her life not ever having met her father who was stationed in India with the British military.
In this era of news traveling nearly as fast as the speed of light, we read headlines of casualties and war atrocities on multiple continents every day. The reality of others taking up arms to defend their principles and beliefs permeates the shields I put up to protect my children from hatred and bloodshed as if they were made of cheesecloth. Now that both of my girls can read, the second they turn on the computer in the morning, they are hit with the number of dead in Iraq and the stories of brutal rapes in Darfur being used as a strategic tactic. As we sat at the kitchen table today and took a few minutes out of our morning routine to discuss Memorial Day and its origins I couldn't help but feel that my explanations were inadequate. My favorite part of our morning is the time we set aside to talk about honoring and respecting each other, learning to ground ourselves in what we know to be true and letting go of things that we cannot control. Today's lesson on honoring the legions of veterans and active military personnel who are losing their lives and killing others every day seemed to crash head-on into our usually serene, peaceful talks. Both girls were eager to choose a Memorial Day coloring page to print from the computer and as I watched them carefully select the colors they would put to the page I noticed the furrows in their brows and imagined the swirling confusion contained inside them. I can sense that they have questions they want to ask but they are having difficulty framing them and I can't say that I blame them. I'm at a loss, too.