Memorial Day

D is becoming aware enough of the days of the week that he wanted to know yesterday why I had today off of work (and he had it off from preschool) and why we were going to a party. 

T and I explained to him that it’s Memorial Day, a day to honor people who were soldiers for our country and who died.  He wanted to know how they died, and I said that they could have died lots of different ways — that some were shot, and some maybe fell out of airplanes, and others just got sick and couldn’t get to a doctor.  But that war generally involves people getting killed.  He suggested that some of them might have been cut with knives, and we agreed that was a possibility.

Then he wanted to know why there were wars.  And T said that people fought wars for lots of different reasons.  Sometimes we go to war because we’re invaded, and want to protect ourselves, and sometimes we go to war because there’s something bad going on and we want to stop it from happening.  (With more time to think, I would have added that we’re not very good at figuring out other ways to resolve disagreements.  But I’m not a pacificist — in 3rd or 4th grade, I was the only one in my class in my hippie elementary school to say that I thought war was sometimes justified, with WWII and the Holocaust as my main example.)

And then I talked a little about how sometimes when people die, the things that they cared about or fought for live on.  I talked about I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night, which T used to sing to the boys as a lullaby.  (Yes, we may well be raising the last red diaper babies in America.)  And we talked about Martin Luther King, who D learned about in school, and how lots of people believe in the things that he worked for, even though he was killed.

And then I told D that our country is right now fighting a war in a place called Iraq, and that I and his daddy don’t think the reasons we’re fighting this war are very good, but we still honor and are thankful for the soldiers who are fighting, since they are fighting because we asked them to.  And he asked if the soldiers in Iraq would die, and we said that some of them would, but not most.  (His class has been writing letters this year to a soldier in Iraq who is the older sister (I think) of another student in the school, so I think he may have been thinking of her.)

And then he wanted to know if there would be goodie bags at the party.  I said no, it wasn’t a birthday party.  I told him that Memorial Day is considered the start of summer, and so people like to do things that they can only do in the summer, like barbecue and eat strawberry pie and play in the sprinklers.  All of which we did.

One Response to “Memorial Day”

  1. landismom Says:

    That’s funny, I think of my kids of red diaper babies too. Sounds like a good conversation to have with your son this weekend.

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