Creating the image above was a task which
triggered a lot of memories for me. Needless to say some were less than
happy but the sad memories also elicited happier ones as I
recalled the time as well as the event which was depicted in the image.
The thought of the people who were a part of my life at that particular
point in time brought smiles and at times even a tear or two as I
again relived different periods in my life. As each image was added
to the collage it also made me realize I've been around a heck of a lot
longer than I like to admit ! <s>
I began this journey as a very little
girl whose Daddy was a long distance away from his family
fighting an enemy in something Mommy called World War Two. My first
real memory of that time is Mommy talking to the milkman on the front porch
one morning about something called D Day which had just happened. He had
been gone a long time - over three and a half years in fact - and she missed
him very much. In fact he had been gone so long he had not even seen my
sister who was born several months after he went overseas. The memory that
brings to mind is how my baby sister was so afraid of men. Living
with only Mommy and my brother and I she had no occasion to spend much
time in the company of men and definitely did not like those weird
! Except for Grandpa of course ... he didn't count. Do you have any
idea how loud a wee little girl can holler if a strange man
tries to pick her up ? I do. And I can tell you it's LOUD !
When Daddy was coming home we spent a great
deal of time teaching her how to greet him on his arrival. We showed her
pictures of Daddy in uniform and we talked about him a lot. My brother
and I remembered him because Mommy had us write to him all the time
( and I do mean ALL the time... she wrote to him every single day of that
three and a half years) and she would include our letters with hers. But
in truth we didn't really remember what he looked like because three and
a half years is a very long time to children as young as we were.
The day he arrived home our sweet
wee sister followed our example when Daddy picked her up and gave
him a big hug and kiss just as we had taught her to do and then immediately
turned and said " Mommy I kissed him .. now .. can I please get down ?
" ... with her lower lip quivering and her eyes filled with tears.
Bless her little heart.. she was terrified !
The Korean War doesn't bring any
significant memory to mind. I suppose because by that time I was so involved
with my own life as a young teenager that I wasn't paying much attention
to anything which didn't centre around me and the usual drama which
accompanies those years. Self involvement does tend to dominate
if memory serves me correctly.
I do however remember every heart
breaking detail of November 22nd 1963 and the days which followed. I was
a very young mother filled with idealism and hope for the future
who was by now very much interested in politics. Allen Drury's "Advise
and Consent " began the expansion of that interest to the political arena
of our neighbour to the south and John F. Kennedy cemented that interest
into a full blown passion of mine which has proven to be life long.
To so many of my generation this
President of the United States spoke a language we understood. The optimism
and hope for a better world we saw in this man came at a time when our
awareness of injustice and the suffering of others was becoming a
very real part of our consciousness. Our innocence died that day. For those
next several days time seemed to come to a complete stop as we sat
in stunned horror watching the events unfold. The image of that little
boy saluting his father's coffin broke my heart.
The next several years were a nightmare
in so many ways. The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F.
Kennedy. Again, hope had been obliterated. Again, we helplessly stood by
as we witnessed the brutality around us and the injustice in our world.
Vietnam was an abomination we watched in our living rooms as it destroyed
so many young people. Those who fought and died, those who were maimed
both physically and mentally, and those who would live with the knowledge
they made choices in good conscience which made many call them cowards,
all saw their lives destroyed. The polarization of the youth of the
day would cripple so many for years to come. Chicago and Kent State. All
events which fostered a cynicism in a society already reeling from
the events of the decade which would have lasting repercussions in the
years to come.
As I was working on this image it
struck me that so much of our lives have been affected by war
throughout my life. Is it it any wonder that I abhor even the word ? Old
men declare wars and youngsters die. And nothing changes. When will we
ever learn ? Hatred and killing is not and has not ever been the
answer. They say that man is civilized and better than the animals
but we kill our young and those whose beliefs differ from ours. How do
we justify that ?
The next few decades saw an emergence of
indifference and hopelessness in the younger generations where escape
from reality became the answer and our world grew ever smaller as
space travel and global awareness via satellite made other continents only
a few hours away. We witnessed man's inhumanity to man on a broad
scale but by now we had been insulated by a numbness that had permeated
our beings as we grew older and the idealism had been almost erased.
Not quite, but almost. There were those who emerged through the years
who did bring hope that perhaps there was still a chance for a better
world. Could we, or would we, perhaps finally listen ? After all, we had
a pretty comfortable existence. Why rock the boat. Life was good for us.
We were not facing the hardship or tragedy we saw on our TV
screens from around the world. We had become the epitome of a 'ME'
In Canada we saw Pierre Elliot Trudeau
emerge as a man in whom we could trust. His beliefs mirrored ours to a
large degree but there were those of the old way of thinking who
didn't like what he had to say and although he did much for our
country there was division as well. Only in his passing did he truly receive
the acclaim from his countrymen that this good man deserved.
Princess Diana embracing an Aids
patient without hesitation or revulsion at a time when this scourge
was first rampant and largely ignored by those who should have been
doing everything possible to search for an answer to it's continuing
spread around the world. Again a ray of hope that goodness and compassion
still existed. Her death at such a young age was felt world wide. She was
young, she made mistakes, but she genuinely did try to do her part
to make this world a better place.
John F. Kennedy Jr ... the little
boy who won everyone's heart so long ago with that heart breaking salute.
His death was particularly poignant as it seemed to close a door which
had been ajar for such a long time. Perhaps the day would come when he
would grow and emerge as his father's standard bearer ? That may
have been a wishful grasp at a past of innocence but now that
possibility was gone as well.
And then ... the world exploded.
Or so it seemed. September 11 2001. No event I can recall has so affected
the world. Not even World War Two and the Holocaust. Of course television
didn't exist in 1939 so the insulation was intact and it wasn't on our
continent but in some far away place many days travel away. This time it
was right here. Horrific and terrifying. Grief and anger abounded
as we witnessed this abomination. We all know how it has affected
our world since that day ! Perspective went out the window as the anger
and unbearable sorrow overwhelmed everyone. The repercussions
of that day reverberate still. Justifiably those most affected demanded
retaliation. The terrorists who planned and carried out these heinous acts
were of course dead but those who had financed and plotted to attack the
USA were still free to plan more carnage.
Certainly terrorism must be stopped
and those responsible for it's proliferation brought to justice. And so
the War on Terror began with unanimity and world wide support. Where
it will end is anyone's guess. The first real response was the War
in Afghanistan which is in fact still ongoing. Bin Laden is still free
and plotting further carnage and Al-Qaeda is regrouping after being
in Afghanistan. The cost to Canada from the war in Afghanistan is to date
four dead servicemen, our first in more than fifty years, in addition to
several wounded Canadian soldiers. Watching their comrades carrying
those four coffins bearing the bodies of our gallant young
men from the plane and home onto Canadian soil was a day which I
will not soon forget. The innocence may be but a memory but the tears still
flow as easily.
Unfortunately Freedom and Liberty
have been compromised as governments react to the threat which is now with
us daily. The North American continent is no longer protected by two oceans
and far from the conflict. How we handle the reality of being the target
is and will be very telling about our much vaunted love of freedom. Is
the price of victory to be freedom itself ? Perhaps that will be
the most significant tragedy of all to come from 9 -11.
The next target was one which came
from an unfinished Gulf War. Perhaps 9 -11 provided the impetus and the
approbation of the American people but I still question the motives of
those who are in a position of power and chose this arena. Saddam
Hussein was a tyrant who had in the past attacked neighbouring countries,
was known to have had weapons of mass destruction, and was the target
of many UN resolutions and weapons inspections since the Gulf War of
1991, but was he in league with Bin Laden and Al Qaeda? He
had not attacked anyone since the Gulf War more than twelve years
ago nor had he used the much talked about weapons of mass destruction
since the 1980's. Was it only coincidence that the current President of
the United States and most of his cabinet and advisors were
respectively the son and members of the administration of the
man who was President in 1991 ? Did 9 -11 provide a convenient excuse for
them to finish a war they had every intention of waging from
the day they regained power ? An excuse guaranteed to garner
the approval of the majority of the American people who had
no taste for war in the aftermath of Vietnam?
There were massive protests world
wide including in the US and Great Britain against this Iraq War
on a scale never before seen but those in power and in control of
the decision making paid them no heed. The ultimate cost to Britain's Prime
Minister for his decisions and support of the US position is yet
to be tallied. A good man and an excellent Prime Minister but one who may
find regrettably that the cost to him is his career. One more very
real tragedy to add to the ever growing list.
The first Gulf War had won the support
of the UN and many countries around the world had rallied to join
a coalition to force Saddam to retreat from his invasion of Kuwait. In
this new war this would not be the case. The decision to again wage war
with Iraq saw the United States and Great Britain with few allies and without
United Nations sanction. Countries which had historically been unquestioned
allies have been alienated and ostracized and international relations
are at an all time low. The ultimate cost to the credibility of the
United Nations remains unknown. A union of nations world-wide founded after
the Second World War to safeguard the world from war may very
well end up being added to the growing list of victims
of 9 -11.
Shock and Awe was the
label given to the planned bomb attacks. Shocking ... most definitely.
Awesome ? I think not. The war was one sided as the US
is of course the most powerful nation on earth and a declaration
was made by the President of the United States several months ago
that the mission had been accomplished. Now, months later, young
American soldiers are still dying every day, Saddam Hussein is still at
large and Iraq is in the midst of what can only be called a
Guerilla War. The Americans are seen as occupiers of an Arab country not
the liberators who would supposedly be welcomed with open arms and
there is no end in sight. The weapons of mass destruction claimed to be
the main reason for immediate action are still to be found. Another Vietnam
in the making ... Dear God, I pray I am wrong.
It seems as if the list of casualties
from 9 - 11 will never end. Have the terrorists won after all ? If our
way of life and our values and principles as defined by those who wrote
the charters on which our countries were founded so many years ago are
discarded because the threat this time is imminent and close at hand we
will have abandoned everything of value in our democratic and freedom
loving countries which so many have died to protect throughout my
I started this collage journey of
my lifetime as a little girl and find myself now so many years later still
seeing those who would claim to want only peace, in the name of freedom
choosing war as the answer, and still sending more youngsters to
do the dying. Will we never learn ? Or will we only learn when it
is too late for everyone ?
There simply has to be a better way
! No child anywhere should ever again have to face the horror
of war regardless of race, religion, or political philosophy. And most
assuredly not because of a lust for power by a cabal of zealots who
would wilfully destroy all of us 'for our own good' just because they have
the power and might to do so.
Dear God , please help us all and
grant the wisdom and courage needed to those in a position
to overcome this threat to our very much taken for granted freedom.
is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect
here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government
expands, liberty contracts."
Reagan, President of The United States,
address, Jan. 11, 1989
To visit the various other
pages of my site click below to reach the Site Directory
My sincere thanks to Margi
Harrell for the use of this superb midi
You will find several
of this very talented pianist's CD's available for sale on her site.
August 9 2003