by Randy Cox
When I was a kid growing up in Gainesville, Texas over 50 years ago, we had a lot of fun playing Cowboys and Indians, but what we really enjoyed was playing WAR.
In those days, kids played with cap guns and rifles if we had them, wooden sticks if we didn't. For weeks after a John Wayne movie played at the State Theater or the Plaza, we would pretend to be John Wayne. There could only be one John Wayne at a time, so we took turns. We had one John Wayne, a couple of other G.I.s, but half of us had to be Germans or Japs.
We had ladders set up on trash cans to be airplanes. We had picnic tables for tanks. They didnt' move around a lot, but they were pretty good for shooting our sticks or crawling up on top for throwing grenades as we shot each other and delighted in the sounds of war that we made with our mouths.
We drew battle plans in the dirt, and we talked freely about the best way to kill our enemy whether it be Germans, Japs, or John Wayne.
We didn't worry too much about parents or the neighbors though, and we only got in trouble when we stopped trying to kill each other with the toy guns and started flailing each other with our fists. A good fist fight could end a bitter war in those days, and the peace would last for a couple of days.
We got in trouble a lot, but not really from fighting our wars. We knew the limits, but if we strayed and trampled a flower bed, there was a stiff price to pay. There was a strange feeling of safety and wellbeing that came with fighting wars that we didn't have when we played sports. We took the sports seriously and when things didn't go right one of us might blurt out a word that was unacceptable. War was okay; bad words would get our mouths washed with soap. Yuck!
Half a century has gone by, and I don't see kids playing war anymore. They don't have toy guns either. They might have real guns, but toy guns are more unacceptable than bad words. I hear children curse in front of their parents and they laugh at dirty jokes when they're not telling them.
Now days, our enemy is not the Indians, Germans or Japs. We don't really call them enemy anymore, unless we are complaining about one of us giving comfort to the "enemy" by asking questions about the war or maybe just wondering why we have to give up so many freedoms to be free. Today, we call the enemy, "Terrorist!"
Now that is a scary word. Our kids can't choose up sides with some of them being Americans and the others being "terrorists". That would not do at all. Since terrorists don't have rights, it would be dangerous for a group of kids to be terrorist even even for a minute.
If two little backyard terrorists huddle together drawing plans in the dirt to kill John Wayne (Maybe Jeremy Renner)it wouldn't take long for CNN to do a full story.
The old WWI and WWII doesn't seem nearly as serious as the War on Terror. War is not a game today. Kids don't play terrorist!