Sunday, December 26, 2004

Christmas Wishes

Took the kid to wander the mall today, mainly to get her out of the house, the mall in Fort Smith being nearly useless.

We met one of her teachers there, working at the candy store. Ah, America: that amusing place where teachers are paid so well they have to take minimum-wage jobs working over their luxurious holiday breaks. This is an outstanding, highly-trained teacher, by the way, one of the best I have ever met: working at a candy store on her ten-day Christmas break.

That was depressing enough, mind you, but a bit down the way I ran into something that knocked the wind right out of me.

Here in Fort Smith the mall has a tradition. It puts up these artificial Christmas trees, and schools and businesses from all over the community “adopt” trees and decorate them. All very cheery and sweet.

The kid and I were walking around admiring them. She likes Christmas decorations. She liked the trees with rainbows on them, and the ones with sparkly candy canes, and the ones with bookmarks done by cancer patients from the hospital, she thought that tree was cool too.

We came to the tree done by the elementary school out near Fort Chaffee.

It was decorated with American flags.

Someone had had the bright idea to have the kids write their Christmas wishes for the country on these American flags, using white stripes of the flags for lines.

I’m guessing what the teachers were expecting, maybe, were heart-warming patriotic messages. And there were a few of these: “I wish everyone in America would have a very good Christmas!”

And “I wish America would be a strong and Happy Country.”

But mostly, and overwhelmingly, the children had written things like this:

“I wish my brother would come home from Iraq. I hope he doesn’t die there.”

“I wish the war in Iraq is over soon. I wish my daddy comes home.”

“I wish the world wouldn’t have wars. I wish we could have peace.”

And this one, which just killed me:

“I wish my cousin wasn’t dead. I wish their never was a war in Iraq.”

The kid asked me what the flags said. “What’s that one say? What’s that one say?” she demanded.

“They’re wishing there wasn’t a war,” I said, and said, “Come on, let’s go buy some candy.”

Damn that Bush.

1 comment:

zelda1 said...

My son, who has very bad knees, could not join the armed forces much to his dismay and much to my delight; however, my son's very best friend joined right after high school, the guards and has gone to Iraq once and came home but his mother called me yesterday crying her eyes out, he is going back to fight, shoot guns, kill people or be killed. He is getting married next month, my son, the best man, is beside himself with anger that his friend is going to a country to fight for oil. I am not only angry, but I am afraid too, so afraid that this young man, who I helped raise, because he was at my house as much as at his house, will go off to this war and come back damaged. My heart is breaking for Terri's, the young man on his way to Iraq, family. I called him today and said, "Leave the country, go to Canada or Mexico." and like a good little soldier he said, "I can not. I have to go."