Why War?

Meghan and her family paying their respects at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Meghan and her family paying their respects at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

My family and I had the privilege of visiting Washington, D.C. over Easter weekend. It was really special getting to see all the different monuments and reflect on the sacrifices made for us. While it was difficult to answer our son’s questions, my husband and I did the best we could. The only question we couldn’t really answer was, “Why war?” It was difficult for him to wrap his mind around violence, fighting, and death. He couldn’t grasp why we would honor that. I had to help his four-year-old mind understand.

First, I showed him a map. We talked briefly and very vaguely about the different countries and their varying cultures, languages, and beliefs. We discussed how those things could cause a communication error.48 Days, LLC

From there, I pulled out his favorite app game: Angry Birds. I pointed out that the pigs took something from the birds. He wondered if the pigs asked first or not. We decided that they probably didn’t ask first and just acted instead. They must have really believed that the birds’ homes belonged to them. The pigs must have really felt strongly to be so aggressive. photo 1

We then talked about whether or not the birds tried to talk to the pigs first to work out a solution. My son remarked that maybe the birds were too angry, didn’t have enough time, or didn’t care. He thought maybe the pigs had been causing trouble for a long time that we didn’t know about.

We talked about how the pigs needed to be stopped because they would continue taking advantage of the birds. The pigs would gain power and strength and soon the birds would just give up. Then where would the birds live? What would they do if they no longer had homes? We talked about how the birds’ homes were destroyed with all the fighting and then it almost seemed pointless because the birds still didn’t have a home.

I asked my son a few questions that he couldn’t answer:

1. Do you think the birds got hurt while fighting?

2. How do you think the birds’ mommies felt when the birds were fighting?

3. Do you think the birds were scared?

4. Do you think the birds felt better after the pigs were defeated? Or do you think they were just as sad because their homes were destroyed?

These questions caused him to really think. I could almost see those wheels turning in his head. I know we will have a few more discussions this weekend when we attend the Heritage Festival. There’s a delicate balance to explain war to honor our fallen heroes,  yet not condone violence.

If your child is asking war-related questions, the RHPL has a great selection of picture books that will help. Here are a few:

Li’l Dan, the Drummer Boy by Romare Bearden

When Mama Retires by Karen Ackerman

A Good Trade by Alma Fullerton

Cowardly Clyde by Bill Peet

Stars Above Us by Geoffrey Norman

Do not forget our fallen heroes and their families this Memorial Day weekend. Enjoy your loved ones and our liberties that came at a price. Let’s work together to raise a future generation worthy of those liberties and freedoms.

About Meghan Zeile

Mom-in-the-know and local writer for Rochester Media. Always looking for tips with kids, family life, and fun local adventures. Contact at Meghan@rochestermedia.com

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