I wasn’t sheltered from world events when I was young, no one was. We had one television in the central room of our house and our bedrooms were connected to the room by a short hall. So, to get to our bedrooms we had to pass the TV and the news. The times were turbulent. We were in the Vietnam War, which had a lot of opposition, the hippies were going crazy in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, Watergate happened.
From the time my father clocked out of the factory he worked in, to the time he went to bed he was a vulture for the news. The Vietnam War was especially troubling to my preteen self. Just on the cusp of thinking I had a handle on my place in the world and what my future might bring, boys began to be drafted into service for the war. The debates were endless on the news programs. There were protestors everywhere apparently, but not in the small town of Ottawa, however our native boys were being drafted too.
Throughout the evenings and into the night Walter Cronkite would editorialize about the legitimacy of our involvement, and he would give fatality figures. Soon his words were followed by the nightly addition of body bags being loaded into planes to be returned to their families. Nothing was held back, on the news we saw photos of dead bodies, video clips of men murdering men and children, and more body bags. My classmates had brothers who were fighting in the war and soldiers were loading more and more bags into planes. One after another our Ottawa brothers did come home in body bags, and we were filled with sadness for our friends and our country.
When I think about the young people that I teach, I wonder what their reaction would be if they were exposed to the news of life, how much reality could they take?