When I was a little boy, I was fascinated by warfare, as it seems all little boys are. My father and most of the fathers of the other kids in the neighborhood were veterans of World War II, and we played at War. Moms were tolerant of toy guns and hard charging young boys because after all, we had just won the War and God was on our side and kids could play at War as long as they played the "Good Guys".
Being a voracious reader, I soon became familiar with the Civil War and the names associated with that conflict - Vicksburg, Chancellorsville, Bull Run, Shiloh. And Gettysburg.
As a young man, freshly returned from Vietnam, I acquired a new board game which simulated the Battle Of Gettysburg. From a company called Avalon Hill. I played it often and I never lost - no matter which side I played. Over time, I became something of an expert on the conduct of the Battle of Gettysburg - I knew who did what right, and who did what wrong.
I haven't played that game in many years. At some point in my life I seem to have become a pacifist, and that game (and the 40 other Avalon Hill board games in my collection) has lost the fascination it held for me when younger. At some point in my life, the numbers of the Civil War became more than just numbers. Two percent of the population died during the Civil War. The 620,000 dead of the Civil War would be 6 MILLION dead, today. And the thing about "dead" is lifeless bodies that will no longer live, love, dance, sing, be home for Christmas, have children and wives and be there to care for aging parents. I have sons - and until I had sons I really didn't understand what it meant to lose lives in war. I know now.
America lost a whole generation of young men to the horrors of war. America is still losing young men and women to the horrors of war.
We didn't learn our lesson then. We not learning our lesson now.
I wish we would.
Ndinombethe - As I go, I am wearing you.