Give Peace a Chance

Give Peace a Chance

A Story by Shelley Warner

A story inspired by The Wonder Years


My grandson, Zach and I have been watching Wonder Years on Hulu. It follows the experiences of a twelve year old boy, Kevin (Zach’s age) and his friends during the late sixties. I hold the remote control and hit pause whenever significant events or cultural issues come up so we can discuss them, things like Civil Rights, sex education,  and The Vietnam War.

In one episode, Kevin gets elected to home room representative while he’s gone to the bathroom and can’t decline. In his first student government meeting, a politically outspoken student suggests a student walk out to protest the war in Vietnam. Kevin has seen news on the kitchen t.v., while he sets the kitchen table and was especially disturbed to see lines of refugees, with children, trying to flee their war-torn villages. He gets caught up in the cause but almost backs out when the assistant principal, Mr. Diperna warns them of dire consequences, including  suspension and “It will go on your permanent record”.

I remember the Vietnam war clearly. Harvey was my true teenage love. I met him at church and things went well for a while. He found solace there from his dysfunctional alcoholic family and was encouraged by the rancher in his area who took him to church and mentored him. Then Harvey got into some kind of trouble; I never knew what. The judge gave him two choices: Go to juvenile detention or join the army. He joined the army. A year later, he was dead. Hit by shrapnel in the chest. His body was shipped back to the U.S. My friend Jessica went with me every day after school to the funeral home, (until the funeral) where I cried by his casket. Harvey was nineteen. I was seventeen.

So the story of Kevin and the student walkout caught my attention. The day came. The teacher that had supervised the student government meetings and encouraged their activism, was absent, supposedly home with the flu, but more likely, protecting his job. Kevin sits in home room, feeling very nervous. Suddenly, he dashes out of class without permission and goes to the bathroom. As he’s washing his hands, he hears the sound of many footsteps. He heads out into the hallway where the whole student body is marching toward the front door. They exit onto a field, singing “All we are saying is give peace a chance”. I teared up. I’m tearing up again as I write this.

Kevin and the students did not get suspended. It did not go on their permanent record.  But they went on record that day to protest a war that took so many lives and didn’t accomplish its purpose. I go on record to agree with them.

© 2021 Shelley Warner

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For a poor kid with a wrecked childhood and little sense of self-worth, it was an easy choice for me. They gave me so many new clothes and shoes in my sea bag that I thought it was Christmas.
I heard about some of us being mistreated by the public, but never experienced it myself. Walking around my tiny southern town in uniform, they all acted like I was somebody. There's too much to tell, really, but I went (on a ship) and returned, but three of my childhood buddies didn't. I see their young faces, still. What did America buy with those 58,000 young lives? In regards to Afghanistan, there's lots of finger-pointing, but it's not all genuine. Joe Biden could bake a perfect apple pie, and there'd be those who'd say it was terrible. War is messy, cruel, and almost never worth it.
I've done the same as you with the remote, pausing to give background on events. I think I missed "The Wonder Years". Maybe I'd find it interesting. If only everyone was strong enough to stand up for justice.

Posted 3 Weeks Ago

I followed my father and I volunteered for Vietnam in 1975. I got lucky. The war ended while I was training. The story you shared. Many stood again the war. Vietnam killed so many young men and women. Like today. The soldiers who fought are left with memories of fighting for freedom and seeing the death of many. Was done for no reason. Today many women will be killed for being smart and strong. This is very sad dear Shelley. A powerful and worthwhile story told.

Posted 3 Weeks Ago

Shelley Warner

3 Weeks Ago

Yes, it is heart breaking. And it's so hard to know what the right thing was to do about Afghanistan.. read more
And I am no Record with you. Accomplished nothing but made returning soldiers villains in a war they did not want to fight but were forced to.
Blamed for what the establishment told them to do.
An Economical windfall that war was...any real purpose was lost in that.
I respect the soldiers who had to fight there...but I don't respect a government for instigating a useless war.
I had several friends who went. I was lucky not to. They came back different...
I was 28 in the first lottery...but my school deferment kept me out. Then I was 1A for three months but didn't get called...too close to home...One of my friends was injured when his jeep was hit ...he broke his back and got sent home. He told me he was about three weeks from becoming the Kurtz character in Appocalypse Now....I appreciate this piece and firmly understand where it is coming from.

Posted 2 Months Ago

Shelley Warner

1 Month Ago

I'm just now reading this story to my boyfriend and I saw your thoughtful comment. I'm glad you didn.. read more

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3 Reviews
Added on July 17, 2021
Last Updated on July 17, 2021


Shelley Warner
Shelley Warner

Camas, WA

I like to write about my life. Sounds a little narcissistic, right? But it's the challenges, the griefs, the joys, the faith struggles, and the enjoyment of nature that inspires me. I have published t.. more..


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