Sign in to follow this  
RevRainbow

Toy Soldiers

Recommended Posts

Freddie, Jose, Rich and I would play “War” at least once a week. We played Army in two different ways. The question we asked each other when we gathered after school was “Do you want to play ‘big’ or ‘little?’” If we played “little,” the rubber or plastic toy soldiers were assembled together in a battlefield of dirt, rocks and popsicle stick barricades. Back then you could buy a bag of toy soldiers for around a dollar.

In the local Dime Store, they even had bags of “good guys” and “bad guys,” the only difference being, ironically, the color. We had hundreds of soldiers ready to engage in battle by the base of the old apple tree in my yard or Jose’s mom’s flower garden.

There were rules of engagement. As we tossed dirt clumps or small stones at the advancing armies, they toppled over in the intense carnage. If the soldiers landed face up, they were considered only wounded and could re-enter the battle. If they landed face down, they were dead and stayed there.

There is a toy cemetery in the back yard where Jose used to live which still contains the rubber bodies of mutilated toy soldiers who were given a military burial.

If we played “big,” our yards became no man’s land, and we locked and loaded our Mattel “super-burp” weapons and cap pistols to dispatch one another. On a sunny afternoon you could hear the rat-a-tat-tat of our weapons as we chased each other over bushes and around trees. Jose’s mom would not let him play unless he was one of the “good” guys.

Getting shot and having to fall down in Jose’s yard was difficult because he had an old dog named Sandy whose only outdoor activity was crapping wherever she wanted to. Many a time, a truce was called while one of us went home and washed the dog poop off our arms and hands.

We died in battle over and over and we argued, “You’re dead! No I’m not! Yes you are!” many times, sometimes winning, sometimes losing. When the afternoon waned, when our mothers called us for dinner, we would resurrect ourselves from the battlefield, prepared to fight again another day. After all, it was only a game. It was only pretend.

Ten years later, I was in Viet Nam, a real soldier. It wasn’t child’s play anymore.

This was real war. Dog poop was replaced with feces coated punji sticks, soda pop cans we kids used as grenades were replaced with beer cans packed by the Viet Cong with gunpowder. Cap pistols and super-burp weapons were replaced with 7.62mm rounds of ammunition fired from AK-47’s and M-14’s. And when people got shot, it hurt and, when they died, they stayed dead.

And no one’s mother was there to call out for us to stop and come home to dinner.

Maybe that’s why so many of the wounded and dying called out for their mother. They were hoping this was all pretend, all a game, and now they could go home.

After the skirmish, after the carnage, after the body counts, I could not help but wonder if those dead young combatants, enemy included, also played with toy guns and rubber soldiers when they were younger. Were they the backyard heroes and neighborhood platoon leaders who led their men to victory with water balloons and clumps of dirt? Did they think they were invincible?

When will we stop playing these deadly games, especially now, when mothers and fathers are calling out that it’s time to come home?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was so happy when my daughters boyfriend finally came home from Afgahnistan it seemed to us that he was gone almost forever. When he came back he didn't talk very much. Except to say that when he died no would would ever know he existed.

He and my daughter went to live with his grandfather a retired Marine who had served in Viet Nam. My daughter said that he and his grandad communicated in silence.

After a couple of months of being home he was sent to New Orleans for awhile. When he came home he and my daughter stayed home for three days and then appeared at my job. I came walking through the door and he was standing there all clean and dressed up pretty nice and said "Hi Mom, I'm home." After that he told me he was taking 5 baths a day, then a month later my daughter said it was cut down to 3 a day.

When my daughter finally got pregnant, he came over to the house (hiding from her cuz she was on a cleaning rampage) I just looked at him and said. Well if you die now the world has proof you lived. You're a Dad. He looked and me and smiled and just said "Yeah" and continued to play his video game.

He still doesn't talk much but his sense of humor is back and the fact that he's a Dad has brought the smile back into his eyes. He is starting to get interested in them doing things together as a family, where before it was always my daughter saying "Come On...lets do this....come on lets have fun..." Now he is starting to do the same.

He hasn't gone back to school yet. I don't know if he will. Before the war he was in college studying to be a nurse. Now he's working for his step father's cleaning company, cleaning businesses at night where he doesn't have to be around people other than family.

My prayer is that these kids not only come home safe, and sound, but that they heal, and be able to move on in thier lives, continuing to grow, and be healthy, and strong, in mind and spirit.

Edited by Theresa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now it is even worse as kids like my nephew spend hours upon hours in front of computers killing people in every way imaginable way, creating enhanced neuronetworking in their minds on killing. He wont even stop to eat or bathe unless his mom forces him to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Every day I pray for the end of all wars. I am an idealist; in my heart there are no good or bad guys... there are only people killing each other. I have seen too many wars in my lifetime. I would like to see my grandson grow up in a world of peace, but I do not think that it will be possible. I guess that I will continue to pray.

Hermano Luis

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower: " I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it, can; only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility; its stupidity."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower: " I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it, can; only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility; its stupidity."

Yet the military-industrial complex which runs things loves it?

Without war they'd be out of work and working at McDonalds!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Freddie, Jose, Rich and I would play “War” at least once a week. We played Army in two different ways. The question we asked each other when we gathered after school was “Do you want to play ‘big’ or ‘little?’” If we played “little,” the rubber or plastic toy soldiers were assembled together in a battlefield of dirt, rocks and popsicle stick barricades. Back then you could buy a bag of toy soldiers for around a dollar.

In the local Dime Store, they even had bags of “good guys” and “bad guys,” the only difference being, ironically, the color. We had hundreds of soldiers ready to engage in battle by the base of the old apple tree in my yard or Jose’s mom’s flower garden.

There were rules of engagement. As we tossed dirt clumps or small stones at the advancing armies, they toppled over in the intense carnage. If the soldiers landed face up, they were considered only wounded and could re-enter the battle. If they landed face down, they were dead and stayed there.

There is a toy cemetery in the back yard where Jose used to live which still contains the rubber bodies of mutilated toy soldiers who were given a military burial.

If we played “big,” our yards became no man’s land, and we locked and loaded our Mattel “super-burp” weapons and cap pistols to dispatch one another. On a sunny afternoon you could hear the rat-a-tat-tat of our weapons as we chased each other over bushes and around trees. Jose’s mom would not let him play unless he was one of the “good” guys.

Getting shot and having to fall down in Jose’s yard was difficult because he had an old dog named Sandy whose only outdoor activity was crapping wherever she wanted to. Many a time, a truce was called while one of us went home and washed the dog poop off our arms and hands.

We died in battle over and over and we argued, “You’re dead! No I’m not! Yes you are!” many times, sometimes winning, sometimes losing. When the afternoon waned, when our mothers called us for dinner, we would resurrect ourselves from the battlefield, prepared to fight again another day. After all, it was only a game. It was only pretend.

Ten years later, I was in Viet Nam, a real soldier. It wasn’t child’s play anymore.

This was real war. Dog poop was replaced with feces coated punji sticks, soda pop cans we kids used as grenades were replaced with beer cans packed by the Viet Cong with gunpowder. Cap pistols and super-burp weapons were replaced with 7.62mm rounds of ammunition fired from AK-47’s and M-14’s. And when people got shot, it hurt and, when they died, they stayed dead.

And no one’s mother was there to call out for us to stop and come home to dinner.

Maybe that’s why so many of the wounded and dying called out for their mother. They were hoping this was all pretend, all a game, and now they could go home.

After the skirmish, after the carnage, after the body counts, I could not help but wonder if those dead young combatants, enemy included, also played with toy guns and rubber soldiers when they were younger. Were they the backyard heroes and neighborhood platoon leaders who led their men to victory with water balloons and clumps of dirt? Did they think they were invincible?

When will we stop playing these deadly games, especially now, when mothers and fathers are calling out that it’s time to come home?

Wow! That's quite a provocative piece of work, RevRainbow.

I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it... Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene.

~Ernest Hemingway - A Farewell to Arms

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those who run the wars rarely actively participate in them, Fawzo.

If this changed methinks we would have a whole lot less wars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well written RevRainbow...I spent countless hours with my friends doing much the same when I was young...we had a vacant lot nearby with a couple of holes dug out where they tore a house down. We used it as trenches for our WWI battles..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I try to understand why we enjoy computer games of mayhem, death and destruction. Some of those games are nothing but how many souls you can dispatch with an arsenal of weapons and vehicles. Then there is the paintball scenario (I guess that's playing "big"), running around dodging and shooting in both indoor and outdoor venues. There seems to be an inherent fascination with war as children and adolescents, and some never outgrow it. War is an ultimate extension of hating one's neighbor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you again, Reverend Rainbow, for another window into the world of a soldier

I truly enjoy reading your work; insight is an amazing thing, thank you for sharing yours

When I read this, I thought of my sweet, complicated father - not so much as a soldier, homicide detective, family man (or golf fanatic) but as that little boy playing on the streets

then finding himself at war; and my grandparents, left to wait and worry, not just for him but for his two older brothers simultaneously

you have illustrated so eloquently this mother's plea - let all our children be safe, please, let them come home

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This fascination I believe carries on into the 'entertainment' of violent movies, tv shows, and such. The same people who are aghast at crime in real life, so often embrace it as a form of entertainment in the media. I try to understand that but no luck so far...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When will we stop playing these deadly games, especially now, when mothers and fathers are calling out that it's time to come home?

I believe until people stop believing that wars can be just.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this