John A. Tures: What do we tell our children?

jtures@lagrange.eduApril 16, 2013 

When I was growing up, there were a lot of horrible images in the media that appeared on the cover of Time magazine. There were starvation and massacres by the Communist regime under Pol Pot in Cambodia. There was the war over the Falkland Islands between Great Britain and Argentina. There was the Israeli invasion of Lebanon (and the terrorism that preceded it), including bombs that destroyed our U.S. Embassy in Beirut and another that killed so many U.S. Marines and sailors at their barracks.

My folks did their best to shield me from those images, putting out Sports Illustrated and National Geographic to occupy my curious mind, but I preferred Time. They even did their best to hide these magazines from me, but that wasn't a good idea. The hid them where they put the Christmas presents, of course (big mistake). So when they were distracted or away and a babysitter was in charge, I would go read them. I suppose that's one reason why I'm in the profession that I'm in today.

But what would I do with my own kids, now that I'm close to the age my parents were back then? I thought about where we were on Saturday, April 13. Zach (age 5) and I ran the CASA Superhero race (1k) in Columbus, dressed as Shaggy and Scooby-Doo. Then it was my turn to run the 5k with my wife, kids, in-laws, nephew and niece waiting at the finish line, on the side and spot where the bomb went off at the Boston Marathon.

Of course no one would target lil' ol' Columbus, except that the streets were packed with vendors as well as Fort Benning soldiers and veterans who participated in the run and fundraising, as well as the mayor of the town.

I got the news of the event just as I was about to send a happy birthday via Facebook to Morgan Earle, a former LaGrange College student of mine who graduated a few years ago and now is finishing up at the Boston Conservatory. She was a short distance away by the street where the bombs went off, Facebooking anxious people who couldn't reach her because of the volume of calls and texts. She was Valerie's piano teacher.

So the kids and I watched the footage and coverage. They had all kinds of questions as they viewed the scene unfolding. How much damage does a bomb do? What does a bomb look like? How do we know what's a bomb and what isn't?

"In Stratego (a board game) there are miners who can defuse bombs," Zach asked. "Why didn't they have any miners there?" I told him about the controlled explosions to defuse the other bombs. He seemed satisfied for the moment.

Then we got news about the death of the 8-year-old boy at the finish line, waiting for dad to finish the marathon. In subsequent stories, I saw his face. He looks very much like my 8-year old nephew Jason, who was waiting along with the others at the finish line for me.

"Can we change the channel now?" Val asked, staring bug-eyed at the news. Not expecting that development, I let the kids watch "Gravity Falls." It took their minds off the tragedy in Boston, at least for a little bit. So maybe I let them watch a little too much. But this country lost its innocence on terrorism years ago. It's a fact of life they will have to grow up with.

John A. Tures, associate professor of political science, LaGrange College; jtures@lagrange.edu.

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