"What war now?" my son asked, appearing at the entrance to our den in his pajamas.
I fumbled for the remote and quickly shut off CNN.
"C'mon," I redirected him, heading for the kitchen. "Let's get water for you and your sister. It's bedtime."
"What war now?" he persisted.
Matthew's question came some time back, when sabres were first being rattled in the direction of Iraq and CNN was already discussing strategy. He was already aware of the "conflict" in Afghanistan, which eventually was called "war."
"It's possible," I said hesitantly, "that we will go to war with a country called Iraq, and soon."
Why do countries ever go to war? I wanted to say, but it was a question beyond adult reason and certainly not an answer to an honest child. I filled two kid cups with ice and water.
"Their leader may have helped the people who destroyed those two buildings in New York and damaged the one in Washington."
"And crashed that plane?"
"Yes, and crashed that plane." I gave him his cup and we started upstairs. "He also tried to take a country next to his several years ago and said it was his. When we stopped his army, they set fire to everything they could so no one could have it."
Matthew thought about it. "So we didn't really stop him."
I shook my head. "No, I guess we didn't." We were in his room now, and I picked up his globe to point out Iraq. "But if a war does happen, it will happen way over here, on the other side of the world. Nowhere close to us; we're here. Their missiles can’t go that far."
Yet, I thought. Yet.
"So we have to go to war to stop him?"
I hedged. "It will cost a lot of money. And a lot of young soldiers may die or be hurt really badly." For one heart-stopping moment, I saw my little blond, blue-eyed boy very differently: all grown up, and yet just a teenager … wearing desert fatigues and carrying a gun. "But, yes, our president thinks it's the only thing that will stop him.
"And the sad thing is, he may be right."
"More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginnings of all wars. Yes, an end to this brutal, inhuman and thoroughly impractical method of settling the differences between Governments. The once powerful malignant Nazi state is crumbling; the Japanese warlords are receiving in their homelands the retribution for which they asked when they attacked Pearl Harbor. But the mere conquest of our enemies is not enough; we must go on to do all in our power to conquer the doubts and the fears, the ignorance and the greed, which made this horror possible." - What would have been President Franklin D. Roosevelt's next speech, had not a stroke taken his life the day before he was to deliver it. His son read the message April 13, 1945.