Imagine....being as young as two years old. For reasons you don't understand, you are being separated from your parents.
You are sent to live with strangers. Every so often, you are moved. Your name is changed. You can't go out during the day. Others can't know you're in the house.
Sometimes you are treated well, and sometimes, you are abused.
There is a war. And you are part of it, but you don't understand why. Or, if you were old enough, you did understand, all too well, why people seemed to want you dead. You knew that sometimes the families who hid you did it out of conviction, but other times, it was for the money that resistance groups somehow found, and paid to them.
Finally, the war is over. Sometimes you are reunited with your parents. Sometimes, you never see them again. Sometimes, almost your entire family is gone forever. Sometimes, you are forced to remain friendly with the very people who abused you.
And, however your saga of hiding ends, the war stays with you for the rest of your life.
The story of a number of Dutch children hidden from the Nazis in World War II is told in an amazing book about World War II called Hidden Like Anne Frank, that I happen to be reading now. Each story is thought provoking, sobering and sad in its own way.
In this book, there are no happily ever afters. There are, instead, many people, permanently damaged by war. You stare into the faces of the children (each child has a photo), and the pictures of those same people, now elderly. You think of your own life. And you are grateful for what you have.
Possibly few of those stories would ever have been written if not for D-Day, June 6, 1944. On that day, some 160,000 Allied soldiers stormed beaches on the coastline of France. Although some 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded on that day, others began the march across Europe to liberate the people. 70 years ago today.
Now, the surviving soldiers of World War II are elderly, and dying, even though at least one man who parachuted in that day parachuted in again. In our country, they die at a rate of approximately one every two minutes. Each day there are fewer left to tell the tale. On June 4, Chester Nez passed away. He was one of the original Navaho Code Talkers, and the last living one. His battles were in the Pacific Theatre, not the European, but he and others helped make victory possible.
Yet, for almost 30 years, he wasn't allowed to talk about it. He carried his scars inside, just as these children of hiding, grown up, did.
Today, we still have war. We still have children damaged by various wars living all around our planet. We even have child soldiers going to war and fighting, some as young as eight years old. We still have veterans returning from war, scarred for life outside (or inside), and hiding their pain.
One day we will read their memoirs, look into their faces, and we will ask "Why?"
Will we ever have an answer?
Tomorrow, my Sustainable Saturday feature.