In preparing for a visit to the beaches of Normandy, I headed to NY Times Travel for recommendations. I found an article from 2000, "A Place of Death, A Place of Play." I read each sentence closely with the mind of a person about to engulf upon a similar trip. I thought about my grandmother and her sisters and her brothers that fought in WWII. I thought about what I wanted to get out of this trip, I thought about my first visit to an American military cemetary in Europe. I drifted off into my thoughts and got slightly annoyed at the author's continuous mention of telling her children to be respectful. Then I reached the end. I read the last line,
"But if he could see my sons, free, and unburdened, and ignorant of war, I hope he would say that their very innocence was what the fight was for."
As I finished the article my thoughts shifted from past wars to present day. In November of 2000, I too was a child of sorts having turned 18 a few months prior. With the exception of Desert Storm, I did did not know war at that time. Now, I feel like so much has changed. I know I have grown and experienced the world but I mean the innocence. For practically all of my adult life there has been a war. America has been at war. I know people who are my age who have fought in wars. It's not just something to learn about in books, museums and movies. War is real right now. Does this mean there is no innocence for children? At first it seemed like no war could be as all encompassing as WWII, and maybe that is true but there is a impact on the homefront from any war. The propaganda may have changed but it's there. Most visable in the budget, in injured young men and women trying to live a civilian life after fighting in a foreign land, young widows and widowers, and children with the word deployment in their vocabulary. I never wanted to be able to say I lived during wartime but don't see an end in sight. Oddly, this article has made me very understanding of the Swiss stance on foreign wars.