On July the 4th, my daughter Merideth and I took her 2 sons (Calvin/11, Ben 6) to the War of the Pacific Museum in Fredericksburg, TX. It is a vast, modern building of gray metal, glass, and limestone. Inside the complex is a maze of winding corridors and open spaces, dotted with 2 salvaged WWII planes, a small treadless tank, a captured Japanese mini submarine, lot of artillery, and plenty of naval memorabilia. Plastered upon nearly every inch of the walls are enlarged photographs and posters of valuable information, detailing a comprehensive history of events throughout the world leading up to and through the war in the Pacific – China, Japan, Great Britain, U.S. It was extremely interesting and one could spend half a day devouring the images and facts. We spent nearly 2 hours there. It was not a pleasant time for me.
Unfortunately, Danny had not been able to come with us (there are no holidays for contractors), because after the 1st ten minutes I was ready to leave. The appalling reality of war – any war or conflict – sickens and saddens me. More incomprehensible than the most horrendous medical illness or horrific natural disaster is man’s inhumanity to mankind. The statistics of the large print posters and unforgiving supersized photographs shocked me to the core.
Frankly, I try to go through life ignoring the overwhelming numbers of death and devastation MEN have inflicted upon women and children around the world. I cannot do anything about the past and have no means to knock any sense into the fanatics and instigators of conflicts and mindless death of the present. My heart/soul just cannot take the cruel onslaught of such savageness and barbarism, so I just keep focused on my life and my widespread family.
After wiping my eyes over and over for nearly 20 minutes, there was finally a bench on which I could sit and keep sight of Ben. I let all the peripherals of my vision go blurry and undefined. Two older women had looked at me as I silently shed tears, probably wondering what memories were being stirred up, who I had lost in the war. They were there with their veteran husbands. Most of the younger men brought their sons, their wives staying home or shopping along Main Street. It’s certainly no place for women. Objectively, however, it is a very interesting, thorough venue for historical facts and photos. Calvin leisurely read all the factoids and would find me on one bench or another to excitedly tell me what he had learned. Since we did not finish going through the entire museum or the Admiral Nimitz Museum nearby, we assured Calvin that Grandpa would bring him back in a few weeks.
Later that evening, as the Landa Park firewords began, I realized it had not been a celebratory day. We had not focused on our declared independence from England. That is what the day should have been about – but even the beginning of our nation was one steeped in bloodshed. (sigh) Will we ever achieve full and lasting peace around the world? Not for thousand of years – at least.