“Goooood Morning Sunset Beach
I was sent a nice piece about war and peace written by someone back in 1988 then re-written in 2007. With their permission I am sharing it but leaving the author anonymous. It is a well written study of this person’s struggle to understand war. It is also a great read, so read on:
“Goooood Morning, Sunset Beach”
© 1988 and 2007
6a.m. clear, calm, not a ripple on the water. A blue heron stands serenely on the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. Is he oblivious to the Wall a few yards away? THIS is a replica of the Wall in Washington remembering, honoring all the husbands, sons, brothers and lovers who fought, and died, in a country I had never heard of until 1973.
1973 – the year I traveled to the U.S. from a small European country and saw, for the first time, men dying right in the living rooms of the good old U.S of A. As a young single girl, I had no point of reference to the dying and the accompanying political screaming. I had never seen such angry people such as those I saw now, in small town America, screaming against the Vietnam War.
What war? I was one of the lucky generation, that had never been a part of any war. Yes, my father was a bona fide hero, highly decorated, from WW2, but that was nothing to do with me, because he rarely talked about it with us. The luxury of growing up a pacifist was mine. “Nobody has the right to kill anybody else.” How often I’d said those words. Even though I had had to fight with intent to kill, to save my own life twice, that belief sustained me through my youth, and into my adult life.
Until 1973. For the first time I saw a grown man cry as he strummed a guitar in my living room and tried, in vain, to sing away all the terrible things he had seen in a land far, far away. Time moved on, and so did I. Vietnam was nothing to do with me. I had my own life to live. But then, another man cried in my arms. In flashbacks he took me to the trenches, and showed me the horrors of children screaming as they died in a war they didn’t ask for. This time the war was not on tv and I was not able to glibly say “ there is no justification for killing”.
Still I argue about the sanctity of human life. Why? Because I STILL don’t get it! This man, in his darkest hours, takes me to places in his mind, and shows me things I had never dreamed of. I smelled what he smelled, saw what he saw, and I learned. 1988 he and I go to the Wall replica set just yards from the rolling ocean. I don’t know why he goes but I am drawn, hoping to find answers to the madness of Vietnam.
Instead I find cameramen, like vultures, hovering over those remembering, honoring. I see a man with a placard demonstrating against the Wall’s presence in Canada. “It’s nothing to do with Canada”. To which this man I love always has his standard reply: “People died so he could have the freedom to do that.” Do I find answers? No – just an overwhelming sadness – sadness that men, women and children died, and it seems nothing has changed in the world.
Still the insanity prevails in some corners of our world. Different places, different causes, same death. 1988 and still the world is not a safe place to live for many. I find myself trying to explain to my 10 year old daughter why I don’t go on peace marches if I believe so strongly in the right of ALL people to live in peace. I explain that the potential for peace is something that lives within each of us, but walking across a bridge hoping some politician will genuinely work for peace, just won’t cut it.
So it’s a beautiful morning. Dogs run freely and the water rolls timelessly to the ocean. Children’s laughter fills the air with carefree joy; lucky children who, if the world is kind to them, will never go to war, nor need to kill another human being so other children may know the freedoms they have. Joggers trot leisurely past the , seemingly unaware that in other parts of the world there is no place to run, no freedom to run, even from bullets.
I sit on a log, surveying all that is beautiful, in the shadow of the Wall, and I cry. I still believe that every person has the right to live a life free from the oppression that still stalks our world. But age, knowledge, awareness, has tempered that – age, motherhood and my intimate exposure to the Vietnam War, and the final knowing of the private agonies that drove my father.
Yes, “no more wars” is still a wonderful idea, but I now know that peace doesn’t come free. Peace doesn’t come just because we ignore thugs, tyrants killing their own children in other corners of our world. And yes – the long ago peace lover has now learned, unequivocally, that if anyone threatened my precious daughter’s life, or any child no matter where, I WOULD kill, in an instant. To have peace, I am now more than willing to wage war.
It is now 2007. Another blue heron stands at the shoreline, serene and unconcerned. The eagles perch atop their regular tree, and we look at each other. All looks the same as it always did – timeless, unchanging. I, though, am not the same person who sat here in this spot almost 20 years ago. I now understand the WHY of war, the absolute necessity of war, if all children are to have peace. I now understand that I, too, would willingly take up arms to protect all that I hold precious.
I now, finally, know that I must honor those I have loved, those who gave all, those I adore today who live on with the memories of all that they have given for peace. I now must live “I STAND WITH YOU”. If that means waging war, so there may be peace, so be it. My beach has never been the same since the day I stood at the Wall, and neither have I.