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Amy Halloran

War Boys

I am 36 and I have two boys, one who is five years old and one who is five months old.  This means I grew up during the Vietnam Era and I am raising sons during the undeclared war of America against the oil-holding countries of the world.

When biology had me by the eyeballs and begged me to procreate, the last thing I considered was the human tendency to destroy.  Now I am faced with that fact and I cannot insulate my children from what is happening.

My parents didn't shield me from what was going on in the late sixties and early seventies.  One of my uncles was a rabid hippie, another was fairly conservative, and politics were served at the dinner table.   I grew my vocabulary by learning the lyrics to the musical "Hair."  But of this backdrop the only political fact I recall is Nixon's resignation, which I was forced to watch on TV, interrupting a riveting game of something in the yard.  I was busy being a kid.

And so my kids will be kids during these atrocities, while my country prevents kids across the world from having childhoods.  On February 15, 2003, I marched with all of my boys - my husband and the baby in my belly and our then four-year-old son - in New York City.  We didn't carry signs or align ourselves with a group, but I was glad to be near people who were carrying big pictures of Rachel Corrie.  In the shadow of her signs, as in the shadow of her life, I wondered whether I would encourage my children to live and therefore to maybe die, by their convictions.

I didn't talk much with my son about what we were doing, just told him that I didn't want our country to be at war.  The concepts of city, state, and country are tough to translate to a four-year-old, and I have a really tough time explaining government to him.  The simplest method would be to say that the president is the father and mother of the nation, but I wouldn't say that because I want him to respect and obey us, his parents, and I don't think that we should respect or obey the authority of our current chief.

I began to boycott NPR when they had a child psychologist tell parents to tell their kids that the president is the president, and Americans should support his decisions, right or wrong.  I've been livid about the presumed liberalness of NPR ever since.

In August my now five year old asked me to write "Peace is Good" and "War is Bad" on a sheet of paper.  He ran off with a roll of tape and stuck the sign on the front door.

The sign has held up well despite the rain this fall.  We may need to make a new one this winter.


Amy Halloran lives in Troy, New York with her husband and two sons. She is working on a novel about Troy during the Urban Renewal process of the 1960's and 1970's, and a children's book about local kids working in the garment industry at the beginning of the 20th century.

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