The Red, Black & White I was not Expecting This Season

Over dinner tonight, I was informed that the boys had been watching The History Channel‘s show, American Pickers, and were introduced to a flag with a Swastika on it.

Sharp intake of breath.

My husband explained that he paused the show and had a teachable moment with my 5- and 8-year old to explain (again) the idea of planting seeds of hate vs. planting seeds of love. He described the flag as belonging to ideas of hate.

My boys told me the history of the flag  – how it had been taken by the owner of the flag and his platoon on the day they liberated a camp. It was signed by every member of the platoon. They were exposed in tiny doses to the idea of the camps – where people were imprisoned simply because they were different from the people who hated them.

No one on the Pickers show offered to buy the flag. It is a thing which should not be sold or bought. No money crossed hands over this piece of history. It was discussed. The soldier who took it down from a place of honor brought it home and never displayed it. He just put it away. He remembers too much already. And yet, forgetting is never an option. Is it?

There is a darkness here that shivers my soul. This is too much to consider in a season of lighting trees and wrapping gifts in paper and tinsel.

Back when our 20-year old, Joe, was in 9th grade, Night, by Elie Wiesel, was on the reading list. I read it. I was devastated. Again. I’ve read about World War II at length. As a young person, I was obsessed with reading about the people who survived, and those who hid, or rescued those being persecuted. Earlier this year, I reread a section of The Diary of Anne Frank, and was devastated by her joy in the midst. Again.

We have discussed all sorts of things over our dinner table. Ben was very concerned one night because he had learned about slavery in school. We have discussed war – several times. We have also discussed the beauty of art and science, the beauty of math.

Tonight was harder than I wanted for my darling little boys. But it was one of those things that showed up unannounced, and we got to discuss it. It will come up again. It’s something that must be studied in school. It is important to not forget. I just wasn’t expecting it so soon, or after shopping for presents.

Luckily, we were able to end the night with demonstrations of the Freeze Bell that Scott had in grade school. There were always two bells. The Freeze Bell and then the Walk Calmly to your Line Bell. All the silly kids did an actual freeze frame and held whatever position they happened to be in when the bell rang. The boys were suggesting outlandish ways to be caught in a freeze and then laughing hysterically at the faces and figures Scott made. Playing Tether-Ball and getting hit in the back of the head. Running. Kicking a Ball. Landing on your Back.

Poor, beautiful photo, unwittingly attached to this subject, from here.

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3 thoughts on “The Red, Black & White I was not Expecting This Season

  1. Isn’t it strange how we end up teaching our children the things we can’t forget, but would rather not think about. One of the moments I remember with Emma was when she saw chickens being killed and roasted. She was devastated and horrified and my heart broke a little bit thinking about all the things the world will show her that I wish I could protest her from.

    FYI – I really like hanging out with your family by reading your posts. 🙂

  2. A few years ago my older boys (at about the same age as your guys) were exposed to Nazi flags at a community production of The Sound of Music of all places. They were along the sides of the theater and all unfurled at once rather dramatically. It was both affecting and effecting and led to a conversation on the car ride home that I wasn’t expecting. Kudos for you for not shying away.

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