Sadly I neither read the book, nor was I able to sit through the epic film starring Audrey Hepburn, her husband at the time…Mel Ferrer, and Henry Fonda.
Despite this failing, I know one thing for sure. Peace is preferable to war.
College students during the Vietnam War, my husband and his brother, along with thousands of other students, were registered in a nationwide draft lottery. Fortunately, both had high numbers which, in the end, kept them from having to serve.
Family and friends mouthed a collective sigh of relief.
Two of my brothers weren’t so fortunate. One served in the Korean War; another was drafted into the Vietnam War.
I never learned about the war fought in Korea. My brother, so much older than me, had long since moved out on his own. We saw one another from time to time, but our chats were limited to the weather and other pleasantries.
By contrast, my brother Ed, just a few years older than me and still at home when I was growing up, shared horror stories about his stint in Vietnam.
The worst was when his buddy was blown to smithereens…within inches of my brother.
Long after he returned home, married, and had children, Ed continued to sleep with a gun under his pillow.
He’d awaken to nightmares, sweating in the dark as he recalled the horrible war years.
I toured the Vietnam Wall with Ed when it was first built. My husband and I happened to be visiting with my brother and his family at the time.
In those days there was no end to the controversy that swirled around The Wall’s selection as the nation’s memorial to the Vietnam War. Even my brother weighed in, favoring a more traditional monument. Perhaps something more typically representative of soldiers.
So I watched in wonder, as my brother underwent a quiet transformation…standing just inches from The Wall.
Tears welled in my eyes as Ed gently fingered the names of men with whom he had served…soldiers who had died for our country…young men in their prime.
Standing steadfast, my brother wiped a tear from his cheek.
This is what I know of war.
Information relayed from one who was there. Second-hand, but nonetheless…powerful.
I am for peace.
I am for working with others to ensure a world in which we can live side by side, with respect for our differences.
I am for life…quality of life.
I am for equality…of persons…and nations.
I am for sharing in the bounty of this earth…as well as in its preservation.
I am for helping to shoulder the burdens of the less fortunate.
I am for all of us…being One Nation Under God.
…for no man is an island…unto himself.