Homebodies - What is after the war?


By Rita Friesen

Once again we are approaching what the calendar calls ‘Remembrance Day’. While I do respect and honour the day set aside to officially recognize those individuals who have served our country, and their families, one day seems woefully inadequate.

The approach of Nov. 11 brings to mind a story oft told. A child quietly asked the parent, “what is after the war?” A simple question from a wonderer. There is no simple answer. The answer should simply be, “peace”.

What is after the war? We have moved from a time when an armistice did signal the end of open conflict and a new set of boundaries, rights and restitution came into effect. The lines between right and wrong, a reason to engage in combat, were evident. Perhaps it is my age showing, perhaps I am an idealist, perhaps I am not comfortable or at home in this world, but these lines feel faded and indistinct, the causes muddied and the outcomes of conflict not definitive.

What is after the war? Scars. Scars on the land, scars in the homes and scars on the mind. Deep ragged gashes that struggle to heal. It is almost inconceivable that the earth itself still bears the scars of battles long past. The long rows of crosses, the monuments and markers should suffice as witnesses of the hurts and horrors, but the very terrain on which battles raged bear rugged witness as well.

 What is after the war? Stories. Stories of heroic acts and exemplary bravery. Tales of  horrific destruction and wastage. Stories told in quiet solemnise, or darkened halls, with a slow and sometimes slurred speech. And then there are the stories that can never be told. Stories locked deep within the troubled mind. Stories filling books and crowding screens. Tales without end.

What is after the war? Families struggling to rebuild. Rebuild homes and communities, rebuild strength in a unit with a gaping hole in the structure. History shows that after the great world wars there was a shortage of marriageable men. And history shows that after the conclusion of the second big war, the surge in family growth created a generation known as the baby boomers, creating a need for new schools and, now, care facilities.

 What is after the war? Ages of contemplation and pages of analysis. Strategies assessed and new plans devised. New weapons devised. New defences devised. 

 My heartfelt appreciation to individuals, families, communities and countries determined to seek justice and defend the defenceless. It is fitting that for just a short period of time, all activity cease and we pause, as a people, to silence our hearts and minds. What is after the war? Let us learn from the past, let us have strength for the future, but please, please, just no more war.