Jess made me think

Well it has happened again folks; something that was said on Facebook has made me think. I know you were hoping this had stopped, but alas, I fear it is just the beginning.
My friend Jess said that he and his son saw entire St. Louis airport stood and honored a procession of WWII vets making their way through the airport. He went on to say that he tried to explain to him what it was and why it meant so much to us as Americans. And he was not sure he had done a good job.
It made me think, when and how had I explained this to my children. I think it was just an ongoing process, as their Great-Grandfather had fought in WWII and lost a leg and some fingers in the process. Their Great Grandpa Wells was an extraordinary man, not only did he fight for this great country and physically sacrifice for it, he continued to give to his community and the surviving Vets of other wars that came home and had a tough time. I don’t remember ever making it pretty for them, the children; we used the words war, fighting, loss of limbs, because that is what their Great Grandpa had experienced. They were never traumatized by it, Jeffrey was traumatized by the knowledge that dinosaurs had actually existed and were not cute and fluffy. He learned that in kindergarten and had excessive nightmares for months.
Perhaps it is because they grew up with my stories of my family fighting for this country, from birth I told them the stories that had been told to me. The bravery of the men and women who had come before us, to fight, so we would possibly not have to. I wonder if it is more difficult for families who do not have that immediate connection to the not so distant past to explain it. I don’t know, I don’t have any answers, I too, like Jess am at a loss, Tessa does not have that immediate connection, she will never get to know her Great Great Grandpa Wells the way her father knew him, so I wonder if her parents will have the same concerns explaining the sacrifices, the battles fought and won, for her to enjoy the life she has.
When is information too much, and when is it just enough? I don’t want the past to be watered down, the generations coming up need to know, we will not have the men and women around too much longer for firsthand accounts. When I was in junior high and high school we had a holocaust survivor come and speak to us on what he had experienced. I remember sitting in Mr. Wright’s history class sobbing during his story. That humans could be that cruel, an impossible thought, but I needed to know, we all need to know, so we never ever repeat history. But without the firsthand accounts will it be as effective? Just reading about it? I know I was much more affected hearing it from a survivor than just reading it in the books.
Jess has definitely made me think today.

3 Replies to “Jess made me think”

  1. Normally I would make a Pithy comment here about making you think, but probably not appropriate.

    I tried to tell him that these people fought to help us be free, but I am sure he didn’t get it. But then again, what 4 year old WILL get it… or SHOULD get it. Hopefully I can start the process and instill in him the pride of being an American, but also the price.

    And you KNOW he is not going to be getting it from “elsewhere”… probably the opposite, actually.

  2. You are fortunate that he did see the procession. It may be the image that sticks with him and when he is old enough to understand, it will mean so much to him that he did get to witness it.

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