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Reflections : young life
 

During the 50's America was a place very different from today. I grew up on a farm, we prayed in school and we went to church every Sunday. We ate apple pie and liked ice cream. This little boy in this little Pennsylvania town thought he was in heaven.

How quickly things changed. In 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated. 'Why is the world crying?' I thought. What about heaven? We're supposed to live forever! I had it all wrong, I guess.

We moved from the farm to the suburbs of New York City. It was called Jersey. Life was different there, but we still went to church every Sunday, still ate apple pie and liked ice cream. It was a good life, everyone in the family involved in Scouting and School Events and Church activities, doing what Americans do.

When the Vietnam War came into our homes every night on TV, things became uneasy. It was war. Boys just barely young men were going away to the war, never to return. Mothers and sisters crying. I was afraid. Afraid that I would have to go learn to kill and maybe be killed. What about Heaven? We're supposed to live forever! I had it all wrong, I guess.

I didn't have to wait for my number to come up in the draft for the Vietnam War to change my life. One night the secure routine of school and Scout meetings and committee meetings for Mom and Dad was brought to a startling halt. A young man had gotten his draft notice. He decided to end his life. He took the baby he had just had with his girlfriend, drank a quart of vodka, got in the car and drove down the highway at 120 miles an hour. But Mom was in his path in a car driven by a neighbor. The young man killed her instead.

Until then, pain was just a passing thing. Anger was just a temporary state of emotion. The meaning of despair escaped me. And what about heaven? We're supposed to live forever! I guess I had it all wrong.

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