This I Believe

Gary - Knoxville, South Dakota
Entered on September 25, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in the power of the visual.

As a youngster growing up watching the television news, I can still see the accounts of the Vietnam War and the protests that accompanied them. The hatred that people had toward each other shown on the nightly news seemed part of the everyday world I was growing up in. The impact of these sights is only now becoming meaningful to me.

I was aware at a young age that there was something wrong with these actions. They were not just movies but real events. In my family no one died during the Vietnam War nor did I know of another family who had a family member perish. Yet the impact was so real.

In 1968 I was 10 years old, the pictures on the television of body bags, Walter Cronkite letting us know the number of Americans killed each day, protests marches and beatings formed a numbing oblivion to my believe system.

I found it difficult to reconcile the teaching of the Catholic Church, love thy neighbor, thou shall not kill with what I was seeing everyday. Those television images are as bright in mind today as during my youth.

The effect of those images has left me with an inability to defend war unless the United States is at risk. While I support the hunt for Osama Bin laden and the gang of Al Qaeda terrorists I cannot help but see those images again when I read the names of the brave men and women who paid the ultimate price in Iraq.

The visual image is so powerful that when pictures are released of coffins returning from war the effect is chilling to all Americans. We may not be able to put in perspective the numbers of deaths we hear on the nightly news but a single picture will last with us for years or even decades.

This visual image can transport us and instill in all of us a feeling of wonderment such as a photograph of the Grand Canyon or sunset on a beach. The visual image of war, death, and destruction can have an equally chilling effect that will last for years.

This I believe.