Al Cashion: Orphans of War
The big box in the living room with rabbit ears that had given me Howdy Doody, Walter Cronkite and Combat was suddenly showing naked Asian children with significant burns running from a village in Vietnam.
A few years prior to that, my living room entertainer with aluminum foil “bling” adorning the rabbit ears had shown me police dogs chewing black people while being clubbed by policemen, state troopers or National Guardsmen and being bruised internally and externally by fire hoses at full pressure.
One scene showed the black children in the background screaming as they watched their parents brutalized.
My concept of war was John Wayne movies where soldiers died much in the same way that I died playing cowboys and Indians with my buddies. Bloodless.
More pain realized by fake falls from fences and low carport roofs than from the mortal wounds.
Thankfully, Hollywood shows the reality of war now; Ala "Saving Private Ryan". Entertainment with war as subject should show the bloody reality regardless of whether the war was just or if the “good guys” won.
Don’t misunderstand me, there have been wars fought that are worthy of the glorification. Historically, they are very few and light years between.
The Children of war, the Orphans of war, the Innocents that have no filters for their eyes save their naiveté, no earplugs to block the screams of family and friends except the compounding confusion are the reason war should be considered as the very last choice.
"Death is a distant rumor to the young." stated Andy Rooney in his more sentient days. A true statement for a kid that grew up in suburbia such as myself.
From about twelve to twenty five I could not imagine a situation where I might have the slightest control that could bring about my death. And I certainly could not imagine a situation out of my control.
The picture of the severely burned, naked girl screaming as she ran down the road from her decimated village brought some reality to this 14yr old boy in Suburbia even if only for day or two. The image and emotion tied with it stayed with me.
But, death? … not so much.
I remember reading about war orphans in burned out Germany. The pictures of children picking through the raised buildings in hopes of something to eat was haunting.
I remember children's skulls stacked in purposeful architecture along with the rest of their community in Laos, the cause of death being brutally obvious as the skulls bore unnatural holes.
And I remember Dec. 14, 2012.
There was a short video of a class being marched out of a Connecticut grade school in single file, hands on shoulders of the child in front of them. One girl was hysterically screaming. Two others had faces stripped of visible emotion, much like a person in shock.
Three more wore horror on their face that was audible although their mouths did not move. One boy’s knees kept buckling but the grip on his schoolmate’s shoulders prevented collapse.
I remembered that this, being newsworthy, would draw politicians and media like vultures to a carcass.
I remembered a statistic I had seen not too many days prior. That statistic stated that there were over 1800 deaths from child abuse in 2010.
Often, child abuse is not written as cause of death on a death certificate. This, however, is not juicy news.
Therefore, between the numbers known, the numbers not counted and numbers that cannot be counted, it is estimated that two thousand, six hundred plus children died from abuse in 2010. These, the child casualties in domestic warfare and neglect, outnumber the deaths in the Sandy Creek massacre, 100 to 1.
And many, many more live a constant terror in the place that should be their sanctuary.
If you know something, do something.
They are Orphans of War.