Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Tonight, President Obama declared the end of the combat mission in Iraq.  I had three months to go in my pregnancy with Mister O when this war started, one of the longest wars this country has ever fought (we'd say the longest, but it's hard to pinpoint exactly when the Vietnam War began).  As this chapter, perhaps more symbolic than promising, draws to a close, it's hard for me to realize that my son's entire life has thus far been framed by the presence of this war.  Has a nation ever been more oblivious to the war it's in?  In the Middle Ages, war was seasonal: many Labors of the Months cycle depict a knight setting out for battle for the month of May.  There are no named wars in the Middle Ages: all of the names (Hundred Years' War, the Crusades) were provided by later historians.  War was a constant, war was a rhythm.  If I start to muse about medieval barbarity, I will very quickly have to confront modern barbarity, and tonight is not for that.

How do you mark the end of combat operations (but we don't call it war)? How do you acknowledge an entirely new chapter in your children's lives (that they are not aware of)? How do you feel hopeful when the future is so uncertain (Afghanistan - Iraq, too, for that matter)?  Of course, Kipling doesn't help, though commentators on him do somewhat.  For the past couple of nights I've been reading a chapter of Harry Potter when I sit and read with Mister O in his bed (before Harry, this is how I finished Amy Klempnauer Miller's memoir).  Tonight, Mister O looked at me and said "Mom, why don't you read a chapter a night until you're done with all seven books?"  And so my little guy gives me this gift: to read Harry Potter in peacetime.  One chapter at a time.

No comments:

Post a Comment