Resolve: never let a kid dream of war again

I could die really cool when I was a kid.

I’d pretend that I was a soldier on a mission with a rifle in my hands as I made my way through enemy territory. I’d carry a tree limb most of the time and walk through pathways in a jungle we called Fairmount Park.

I’d shoot and kill a lot of the bad guys but then get shot myself.

Whereupon, I’d grab that part of my body that was hit and I’d fall to the ground. Closing my eyes, I’d pass on. . .

———-

What an imagination. It was as much fun dying as it was creating my living in a dream world brought to me by television and the movies. I’d become John Wayne rushing up the hills at Iwo Jima or Audie Murphy, the real life war hero that got the Congressional Medal of Honor before he appeared on the silver screen.

I made a resolution way back then to become a Marine and fight for my country when I got older. I wouldn’t practice dying but I would imagine what it was like to fight the good fight.

It was something I believe that many guys felt when they were young. How could you not want to be like Fess Parker swinging his rifle – nicknamed “Old Betsy” – at the enemy soldiers trying to take him down on the steps of the old Spanish mission called the Alamo. Or to fight from a bed like Walt Disney portrayed Jim Bowie did as the “invaders” rushed into his room and he not only shot ‘em, but threw his Bowie knife at one of them.

————

I lost that dream somewhere along the way to my teenage years. Girls took over and so did slow dancing and singing Doo Wop harmony songs on the street corners of Philadelphia.

I never joined the Marines, but I figured I fulfilled my destiny when being drafted in the army and going to lead a bunch of men – many of them still in their late teens – in a place called Vietnam.

I never got shot and didn’t have to practice dying there. Now all that’s left is recalling those times that most kids would never dream about if they had experienced war in the first place.

3 comments on “Resolve: never let a kid dream of war again

  1. Nicole says:

    Even as a child of the 1990’s, and of the opposite gender, I look back on some of the dreams I had as a kid and think “Ugh, if only I knew!” Your experience is more drastic, of course… But I wonder why fighting (and perhaps) dying in battle still holds such a pull over many of us, especially men and boys. My grandfather named his first son after Audie Murphy, when he was barely more than a boy himself at age 22. My dad still chokes up when he watches war movies or plays and sings Al Stewart’s “Roads to Moscow” on guitar.

    This comment is getting away from me… but long story short, I wonder what youthful dreams of honor, and for that matter our concepts of masculinity, would look like in a world without violence and war?

    • contoveros says:

      Who names their kid after Audie Murphy?

      Well, I guess the kid in us still sees war as something to glorify. At least Audie Murphy served in a conflict that was described as the war to end all wars. Wait a minute. That was World War I, wasn’t it and not WW2.

      • Nicole says:

        My stubborn grandfather, that’s who. 😀 And the all-knowing Wikipedia says it was World War II. I had to check, though.

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