While brightly colored toy soldiers, miniature planes, ships, tanks, and military history are fun and fascinating things, it's worth remembering on a day like today how utterly and indescribably awful real war actually must be for the men and women who experience it firsthand. My maternal grandmother told me once about a family in Asheville, North Carolina that lost all three or four of its sons at once because they had been allowed to serve in the same unit and shipped out together. I cannot even begin to fathom how terrible that must have been for that family. Will the people of Earth ever really be able to get their collective act together and stop killing each other?
A related point that also occurs to me today, November 11th, is the fact that I have had the privilege to meet and know a number of Germans, Japanese, Russians, and followers of the Islamic faith from various corners of the world -- former or perceived current enemies -- during my childhood and into adulthood thanks to things like YMCA summer camp programs and, later, various academic programs and pursuits. What amazing experiences those opportunities have been over the years. Without wishing to sound too preachy, life has been made so much more interesting because of these acquaintances, to the degree that it is difficult to imagine killing each other. And maybe that is the key? International fellowship and improved understanding, or at least tolerance, through youth programs and education. If more of us had more opportunities to know each other better, maybe war would make less sense in the future? Which might just make real life playing with guns and soldiers obsolete one day. Now, there's an idea.