Sunday, November 11, 2012
Missa, why you're crying?
This week, we read A Poppy is to Remember by Heather Patterson (Author) and Ron Lightburn (Illustrator). I cannot read this book without crying at some point. Susan read it first, early in the week. But I picked it up and read it to the children myself later on.
I made it through the descriptions of The Great War, and I made it through In Flanders Fields, and through statements about remembering people who died, who cared for the wounded, and who were left behind as their loved ones went far away to fight in wars. I had to pause and take a few deep breaths here and there, but I made it. And then came the part about remembering the soldiers who lived and returned home. One tear escaped from my eye, followed by another and another.
"Missa, why you're crying?" asked one of the children.
"Because I feel sad." Crying is the natural thing to do when one feels sad, after all.
"I feel sad because my little brother was a soldier. He went away to a war." He served in Bosnia in 2003.
"And he died?"
"No. He didn't die. His body did not get hurt. But he saw people hurting each other. He saw people treating each other badly. He got very, very angry and very, very scared, and when he came home, he was never the same again. His body didn't get hurt; his heart got hurt."
Susan pointed out that one of our other teachers, who grew up in a refugee camp, was affected by a war, and that she had to go away from her parents when she was just a couple of years older than our students, and never saw them again.
"War is a terrible thing. Lots of people get hurt in a war. Lots of people die."
"I don't want a war. War is not good."
"I agree. But we don't have to worry about a war here where we live, because our soldiers went far away to fight and keep us safe. They served our country so we can be free. We are allowed to go to school and to sing songs and say what we think, and play outside and be kids because of those soldiers. We don't have to be afraid. If you see a soldier in the next few days, maybe you can tell him or her 'thank you' for protecting your freedom."
Today, I sat on my best friend's couch watching the Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa (CBC makes a time-delayed broadcast so it airs at the proper time of day in each timezone) with her children playing in the background, marvelling at the sacrifices made by so many men and women over the years so that I might spend my days someplace safe and warm, with plenty of food to eat, and the right to speak my mind.
If I could, I would thank each and every one of them.