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24 August 2008

War Toys

It is only a game that children play, under the shade tree or in the sand box. Gritty little hands clutching gritty little green men with guns. War toys and war games is what they like to play. "You're dead! You're dead! I win!" they chant. It's only a game, after all. No one one gets hurt. It's only pretend. On the playground, they reenact the movie they watched last night when they were supposed to be doing homework in their rooms. For their birthdays they want cap guns, and BB rifles. Water guns are just fine when the weather is warm. "I got you! You're dead!" they chant. It's only a game. No one gets hurt. It's only pretend.
The recruiter comes to the high school and they assemble in the gymnasium. Graduation day is just a few weeks away. College is not an option. Mom and Dad have worked their whole lives, and never managed to save a penny for their future. Bills and debt, food and mortgage consumed their life's work. Glory and honor, respect and prestige is what the recruiter promises. "You'll earn money for college," he promises hopeful young faces. They line up to sign the papers and pledge to defend their Country. "It's just four years," they are told. "Then you can go to college." They hesitate only a moment before signing on the line. It's go in the service or work at the service station. It is only a game that their children play, under the shade tree or in the sand box. Gritty little hands clutching gritty little green men with guns. War toys and war games is what their children like to play. "You're dead! You're dead! I win!" they chant. Their mommy or daddy is in Iraq, playing soldier in the sand, but it isn't a game and people get hurt. It isn't pretend. On the battlefield they remember their homes, their loves, and their lives. This isn't like the movies they watched when they were supposed to be doing homework in their rooms. This weapon in their hands is not a cap gun or BB rifle. For their birthdays, they just want to come home alive. HOME

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