Children War

Parenting In Time Of War

I will never forget November 1989 and the joy of seeing the Berlin Wall come down in a Germany that, outside of history books, had always been two countries in my lifetime. Since 1961, when the wall went up overnight with no warning, families had been divided. You were on the side you were on and that was it. Shortly after this wonderful day, this beautiful new beginning, America was at war again in Operation Desert Storm.

Being a child born in the 60’s, my father and uncle served in Asia. Other family served in the Gulf. That’s just the way it is; America is usually at war as far as I know. In 1989, though, I realized just how bad that is. In 1989, watching that wall come down, feeling that love and joy and relief, coming through the television set, bubbling up through my center, I held my baby son, and I realized just what I brought him into. You relax as much as you can, teach your child, watch him grow, hope that the timing will work out, but knowing there’s at least one every generation in this country, well, it wears on a parent. Then “W” came into office. It was the Bush before that had brought about war, and this one wasn’t nearly as smart as the last. He and the people around him were clearly excited about more war. Then came the attacks on 9/11 and lies about WMDs, twisting facts to fit their narrative, and I knew which war my son would probably die in. That’s what we do here in America; we talk about how special and important and powerful we are as a nation, and we tell people what is right and how to be, and then we go in and make them do what we want them to do. And we did.

Though my son came from a military family, and the war was still going on when he turned 18, there was somehow no draft. He chose not to go. As his mom I respect his decision either way, of course, but you can imagine my relief when he chose not to go. Meanwhile, all around us people of all ages sent loved ones (some went many times, multiple deployments) to fight knowing they didn’t agree with the war and knowing they might not get that loved one back.

Parents of children, especially those in the 10-16 age range, are probably feeling it acutely now, too. After that second Bush left the horrid mess he left, we had a president who wanted peace and President Obama did a fairly good job of keeping the peace; he was not great in that area, but considering what he had to work with at the start it’s hard to fault him. That ended a week and a half ago, and the threats from the new administration are greater than ever. Maybe it’ll be a nuclear war this time, and it’ll be over so quickly the world will not have time to say “oops, that was a terrible idea;” we’ll all just be gone. Maybe it’ll be Mexico seeing as how he’s stirring trouble with our neighbor every chance he gets (and he goes out of his way to make chances). Or maybe it’ll be more wars in the Middle East. That appears to be what he’s setting up for saying that when we invade again this time we’ll pillage and torture (both illegal). And he’s purposely endangering our troops already in the Middle East with this ban on refugees and his insults to the people, to one of the religions of the region.

It’s hard to tell what kind of war he wants. It’s only clear that they, Trump and Bannon, want war. Bannon, the latest addition to the National Security Council, has made no secret about it; he’s not been unclear in any way that he means to “bring everything crashing down,” to “destroy the state.” Parents, I know what you’re feeling now, counting months and years, hoping it doesn’t happen or that it happens at this time or that time or not before this date. I remember that looming threat. I remember living with that dread until my child turned 20 and was unlikely to choose to go or to have to go. With each story about the next thing the president’s doing to incite violence and hurt our relations with everyone else in the world (other than the people he does business with), I remember the young parent I was, and I think of your children. I know what he’s risking. I know who he is risking. I am worried for your children, too.


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