I was a child of the 60’s. My memories of the era were hazy. Not the reason you think, but rather, because I looked at the world through the eyes of a child.
I never understood the implications of the Viet Nam war. But I cried at a soldier’s funeral. I never knew him, but he was my classmate, Shelly’s, big brother. I remember turning and watching his flag draped coffin roll down the aisle. I watched as his mother followed with stooped shoulders. I vividly remember her face. Wracked with days and days of grief.
I remember images of Woodstock splashed on the evening news from the TV console. The same TV that my father would turn on 10 minutes before the broadcast so that it could warm up in time. But because it didn’t feature the Osmond Brothers, David Cassidy, or Bobby Sherman, I had no interest.
I remember the horror of the images of Kent State. After all, we lived in Ohio. My parents, products of the happy days of the 50’s, huddled together with whispers of disbelief, as they watched a country they loved be ripped apart.
And I remember how my father swore never to watch another Jane Fonda movie again. For the rest of his life. As he is preparing to turn 80, I am certain that he has kept that promise.
At the age of 9, I fashioned a peace sign necklace made from cardboard and brown faux leather, left over from a faux leather fringe vest that my mother had made. I strung it around some sewing thread and wore it to dinner. I thought it was cool. When my parents saw it, they asked me to take it off and never wear it again. They didn’t tell me why. I didn’t ask.
Because I was a child of the 60’s, I obeyed my parents.
And hid it in my treasure box.
The other day I noticed that my 10 year old daughter had been doodling on her notebook. Twenty five or so peace signs graced the outer and inner pages. I began to look around and see that old symbol appearing again on clothing and bumper stickers. I brushed it off as a fad, but then my husband had the good sense to ask my daughter why she was drawing a peace sign on her work.
She shrugged, “because it’s cool.”
She had no idea what it meant.
So my husband helped her to look it up in Wikipedia. The origins of the sign symbolized the dove and the olive branch. It was then adopted as an international symbol by the anti-war protestors of the Baby Boom Generation.
The same generation that heaped shame upon legions of embattled soldiers returning home from fighting a war in Viet Nam.
This is a symbol that is now appearing on signs of wackos showing up at the funerals of American men and women who have died serving our country in recent months. I’ve seen the faces of these families. Wracked with days and days of grief.
We want our children to understand what they stand for. If they gravitate to a symbol, they need to know the full implications and meaning of that symbol.
I want nothing more than for my children to grow up in a safe world, where peace is the norm.
But as we know from history, if our land is at peace, and if we are enjoying the fruits of freedom, a high price has already been paid.
My heart goes out to the families of our fallen soldiers. And those men and women who are putting themselves in harms way so that my children can grow up within safe borders?
You have my utmost respect and undying gratitude.
Updated to add: After reading the comments, I felt the need to clarify. Please don’t misunderstand, I am a supporter of peace. I understand that we all desire peace, especially the people serving in the military.
What I’m venting about is how a symbol that first represented the peace we all desire, is forever associated with an anti-war mentality that shuns the very people responsible for keeping our borders safe.
Believe it or not, when I sat down to write this post, it was going to be light. But as I typed, so many old emotions surfaced from my youth. When I tell you that this blog is my brain dump, I am not kidding. 🙂
Love you guys. I think this is some good discussion. I just want you to know my intent.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
~Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8