No lyric that, but a line from Shakespeare's Henry V about the killing of the luggage boys at Agincourt. We are to be horrified that children would be targetted and killed by the enemy. But children have been a part of war from the beginning of time. Children have even decided to go to war for themselves. The Children's Crusades of the 13th century ended in the disappearance or death of thousands of children, although it is unlikely that any of them ever saw a battlefield.
But this morning, on KPFA a guest was talking about the growing number of children that are being recruited, or forced, to fight in this world's wars. Of particular concern are the fact that our troops are facing children, often snipers of 12 or 14, in Iraq.
I love history and so the idea of children on the battlefield did not shock me. But I suddenly had a flash of what it must be like to be a newly-made officer (maybe out of West Point)...21...who realizes that the sniper that has pinned his/her soldiers is the age of their youngest sibling.
And if you don't think this is serious...the guest pointed out that a 14 year old can be taught to use an AK-47 in a couple of days (if that), and suddenly has at his disposal, the firepower equal to that of an entire Civil War regiment.
This has sat in my mind all day. I'm not entirely a pacifist (which may come as a suprise to some of you)...I actually do believe that there is a point at which violence may become necessary for your own protection (I'm just going to try to avoid such situations as much as possible), but how do you deal with inflicting violence against an "enemy" that is a child?
Then I remember that my great-uncle was a child in the navy...He lied to the recruitment office and enrolled at 16.
I don't have any coherent answers or even good wrap-ups...I just have horror.