Children Trapped In Your Mind

by James Glaser
March 13, 2003

I wanted to write some high brow article about how those that have never experienced war have no chance to understand how totally revolting war is for those that have and just how hard it is to contemplate having that experience again.

I look at this next war for the United States and see actual snapshots of my war. It doesn't matter that my war was in a jungle all green and lush with vegetation, because the backgrounds are forgotten. The death and destruction are the same. Dead bodies start to look the same and you could pick those out of my brain and lay them out in the desert and they wouldn't be out of place. Many times you can't tell if the dead were friend or foe. Sometimes there are just parts of people, sometimes, just stains.

Many times death is not that hard to look at, but the people that don't quite die, live with you forever. You see people, maybe somebody that was close to you that you know should be dead, but for some strange reason God won't take them. Some of these bodies aren't recognizable as human anymore. Faces gone, limbs gone, and making sounds like some animal that is either trying to communicate or just uttering noise that is produced by pain.

But there is always one sight that galvanizes its imagine in your memory banks because it is so easy to recognize. That would be little people, children and infants. You just can't mistake them for anything else. When you come upon a little leg laying there you know where it came from.

You look at a dead adult and you can say they were the enemy or they were helping the enemy You can make up all sorts of excuses as to why they had to die, heck you can even use "they were just at the wrong place at the wrong time." That doesn't work for children. Children are not at the wrong place. Children are in the country they lived in and they have no choice about it. When you start seeing dead children you know that the war was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

In any war, it doesn't matter what your President, your parents, or your priest told you about "just wars," when little kids start to appear in the aftermath of your countries actions, you know in your heart that wars are wrong. God gave each of us a conscience and dead infants and children weigh heavy on it.

Think back to the Vietnam war and one imagine is still vivid for those that lived through it and that is the girl who had all of her clothes blown off her and was burned in a napalm attack. She is coming down this road with a look of horror and pain on her crying face. Her arms are out at her sides and it looks like she doesn't want any burnt skin to touch any other burnt skin.

It is such a shocking picture because it is a child. They don't let many shots of hurt children hit the news stands because it hurts the War Effort. If the first child killed in every war made the front page, every war would be shorter.

Right away people know that it is wrong when children are killed. It doesn't matter who did the killing, whose child it was, or what color or religion that child had. It is the size and shape that hits people and they know evil has been done there.

In all wars the leaders of the county provoking the war never see dead children, in fact in modern times they never sees anyone dead. Generals and field grade officers don't either. Everything is cleaned up by the troops for them. Usually it falls to the youngest and lowest ranking member of any army to clean up the bodies. They say to get rid of them to prevent disease, but I suspect it is to prevent photographs.

We are about to go to war again and our President talks of liberation for the people of Iraq. It sounds noble, it sounds almost good, but I know. I know that thousands of our young men and women, probably the youngest in our army will have snapshots of this war burned into their heads like I did and every time they go by a school yard with kids playing or hear little girls shrieking in play, the sights and sounds of that war will come back to haunt them

For the next 50 years there will be Iraqi mothers and fathers that might just enjoy this American led liberation, but they will always remember that child or those children that they had to bury and any good coming from that war will be buried with their children and liberation will be filled with sorrow.

Like any war there will be thousands of adults and children who will be blinded, lose arms, legs, and the horror of war will be too great for many minds, but they will be liberated.

War is wrong when there is any chance of peaceful resolution. For over twelve years the Government of the United States has made no attempt at face to face negotiations with the Government of Iraq. I know why that is. It is because nobody in our government has those snapshots of dead children trapped in their mind.

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