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GAIL WHITE Kids and adults share patriotic attitude



Published: Fri, November 9, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Through recent conversations with a den of Cub Scouts and a group of men at a barbershop, I have learned that today's digital child has many of the same thoughts and emotions as his analog adult counterpart.

Though expressed differently, these diverse generations share the same love of country, concern for those in need and theories on the terrorists.

As our nation prepares to honor its veterans, even as a new generation of veterans is fighting to preserve our freedom, truly, our nation stands united.

The third-graders of Cub Scout Pack 16, Den 5 in Columbiana, completely understand that America is at war.

While their young, boyish minds talk of tanks, guns and bombs, their tone is much different when they speak of our nation as a whole.

Mardell Hallas, 8, said, "America doesn't like to fight. We like to be fair. We have justice. We don't like to hurt people. We like to help people."

Their minds turn to the children of Afghanistan and the hardships they are facing.

What's expressed: "You feel real bad," Mardell said sadly. "The kids can't do anything," he added. The tone in his voice reveals a hint of frustration that American children, himself included, can do little more than the Afghan children to stop the violence or ease the pain.

Walker Fowler, 9, shares an understanding of the alliances America is forming. "Since we're a nice country, other countries help us," he explained.

Nathaniel Tate, 9, is highly curious about the atomic bomb. He speaks of it with fascination and wonders if the United States will use it to bomb Afghanistan.

None of these Cub Scouts seems to know about Hiroshima.

"We tied in the Gulf War," Nathaniel informed me.

"Tied?" I asked, marveling at the term commonly used when playing a game.

"We didn't get that guy," he responded matter-of-factly.

"That guy" is Saddam Hussein.

Though the United States was victorious in defending our Saudi allies in the '90s, some now suspect Iraq's leader may be behind the attacks taking place on our country today.

At Nick Colla's Barber Shop on Southern Boulevard, the conversation is on a much higher level, but underneath, the message is much the same.

Gary Oles, a retired controller for LTV Steel Corp., is in the barber's chair.

WWII recalled: Gary remembers World War II. "People came together," he said. "You knew we were at war. There were restrictions on everything," he recalled, explaining the gas rations.

These men remember Hiroshima.

"A lot of innocent people died," Gary said with sadness.

"Harry had to do it," Nick, the barber, said, referring to President Truman's deployment of the atomic bomb. "We would have never won if we hadn't dropped the bomb."

They both speak with compassion for the people of Afghanistan.

"I hate to see innocent people die," Nick said.

Nick, like our little Cub Scout, has a hunch Saddam is behind the recent attacks on our country. "It'll come out in the wash," he is certain.

As if in response to these caring citizens' thoughts and concerns, I encountered Matthew Lynch, a Marine Corps sergeant.

Donned in full uniform, with a rifle expert medallion pinned under his stripes, he said of his Marine experience, "I have loved every minute."

Regarding recent events, he added, "When the security of our country is breached like that," he said, referring to Sept.11, "It makes people appreciate what we have ... the true value of freedom."

As a full-time active-duty Marine, this sergeant may be called to serve overseas at any time.

"I am ready to go," he said with determination and honor.

This Veterans Day, may we remember the veterans who have served to make this country great and pray for those who are serving to keep it great.

gwhite@vindy.com




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