This post was first published Memorial Day 2009. Since then, Kim Jong Il has died, as has my dad. Andrew is working in social media. And there still isn’t peace in North Korea or many other parts of the world. We still need to wage peace.
Earlier this week, Andrew (@itsswanny) began following the news about the earthquake in North Korea. He was watching @breakingnews, a news feed that serves the twitter community. They reported an earthquake in North Korea. It was clear very quickly, to @breakingnews, to @itsswanny, and to many other people that this wasn’t a normal earthquake.
Andrew’s interest was triggered by his interest in showing the value of non-traditional news organizations in reporting breaking news. It likely wasn’t triggered by a personal connection, though he knows that there is a very personal connection to the actions in Korea.
My dad spent a couple years of his life in Korea, and the rest of his life being affected by that experience. He watched friends die, holding at least one during those last moments. Because of his role in the military, he was aware of horrible things that happened to many people on many sides of that conflict. He was seriously wounded. Memorial Day has never been an abstract concept for him.
He didn’t talk much about his experiences. I remember only three short conversations. I did, however, do some reading to understand better what had happened. (The book I read, among others, was The Korean War by Max Hastings. I have it here on my shelf.)
At times, Dad referred to the fact that it wasn’t an officially declared war. It was called a “police action” by President Truman. For not being a war, Dad thought, there was a lot that looked like war.
The fighting ended in 1953 with an armistice, a truce. The line that was drawn when the fighting stopped wasn’t far from the where the line had been when the fighting started. The battleline had moved far south and north and south on the peninsula before stopping.
There was a lot of fighting and destruction and death for no apparent purpose, and no apparent peace.
That’s been troubling me all week.
Two generations have reached adulthood since my dad was nearly killed in a war that wasn’t a war that ended without peace.
How often, I ave been thinking, do we move to avoidance rather than peace? How often are we willing to accept a suspension of conflict rather than waging peace? How often do the agreements that seem to cover over something lead to trouble for the generations that follow?
At this point, there is nothing Dad can do about this unresolved, reboiling conflict, though I am sure he prays. At this point, Andrew’s interest is more in the reportage than the resolution of the real-world conflict. (Though you can see from the picture that he was involved in his own peacemaking police action just before the earthquake on the other side of the world.)
At this point, I don’t know what I can do. About the tension between nations, that is.
About highlighting the need to wage peace, however, I can start to do something.
Starting with mentioning it.