I wrote earlier this month about our family’s recent vacation in Washington DC. (See Blessed to be Family.) Visiting a city like Washington DC with a curious 6-year-old is like a flash course in American History 101. This kid had so many questions, and there is so much to learn!
I explained some history about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II at the Air and Space Museum. When he learned later in the week that the cherry blossom trees were a gift from Japan in 1912, he was confused by how we could be at war with someone that was – and is now – our friend.
Seeing the countless graves and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery, and the endless names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall made him reflective on the impact of war. Are we at war now? Could another country come fight us in Nebraska? What countries are near us, and will they fight us? How many people went to fight in the war in Vietnam?
After seeing the blood on the Abraham Lincoln artifacts, he wondered why we didn’t see blood on George Washington’s death bed when we visited Mount Vernon.
I pointed out the spot at the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his historic speech in 1963. But pointing out this important historical place required a little explanation about the sad history of civil rights in our country, and an acknowledgment of differences in race that my son perhaps has never recognized before.
The pictures shown above are from our trip, taken by my son on his own camera. These were not prompted by an adult, but are a reflection of his own interests and his recognition of the importance of the sites and memorials we visited.
At age 6, my son is testing my own memory of my studies in American History so many years ago. We will soon reach a point where his questions out-pace my own retained knowledge. (Thank you in advance to Google access on my smartphone for your assistance!)
Unfortunately, so much of our history is full of bloodshed, war, disagreement, inequality amongst humankind. This reality of our world must be a lot for that young mind to process. My kids are fortunate – they have been shielded from the harsh reality of life. They have grown up in a loving middle-class home in the suburbs, a luxury many children in this world do not have. As a parent, how can I prepare to handle the questions and confusion that will occur when these illusions are shattered?
God did not promise that our time on this world would be easy. But God did promise that he would be with us, and that God’s love would not fail. What else can I say – to my kids or to my own internal fears and uncertainty about the reality of the world. I can’t control, I can’t predict – but I can be certain that no matter what, God is with me and can offer peace in any circumstance.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:28-31
For more like this, see Lea and her little lamb.