Last night I watched David Letterman’s interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Netflix. It’s a fascinating conversation. At one point Letterman asks the president about his family and Zelensky says it is only when he is talking with his wife and children on the phone that he feels normal, that he feels like he can actually breathe.
David Letterman asked the Ukraine president if he discusses the war with his children and he replied that it is impossible not to do so. The children of Ukraine, he says, know more about the war than their parents.
“The children of Ukraine are deeply immersed in the war. My nine year old son knows the names of all the weapons and he didn’t learn them from me. Vladimir Putin has stolen childhood from the children of Ukraine. “
President Zelensky goes on to tell David Letterman that every Ukrainian has made sacrifices for their country. “Our children,” he says, “have sacrificed their childhood.”
And isn’t that the way it always is. War robs children of their childhood. I have seen that over and over again in different places in the world.
A boy looks through a bullet hole in a bus window during the Kosovo War from 1998-1999 when the Albanian Kosovo separatists supported by the United Nations fought for independence from Yugoslavia.
George Rouault painted Wars- Dread of Mothers nine years after World War I when his country of France was already involved in two new wars one in Congo and another in Lebanon. The painting alludes to the Madonna and the infant Jesus and a line from the Odes of Horace an ancient Roman poet who wrote that while some rejoice at the sounds of war mothers detest them.
Tricycle ridden by a child in his front yard when the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 during World War II. Thousands of children died in Hiroshima that day and thousands more died later from the effects of the radiation they were exposed to.
Khom was our guide at a landmines museum in Cambodia. He had lost his arm at age five from a land mine explosion. The landmines were planted during the Pol Phot regime after a 1975 conflict in which the Khmer Rouge took over the country from the monarchy.
These stumbling stones have been placed in the sidewalk outside the homes of Holocaust victims in Frankfurt. You are meant to ‘stumble’ over them as you walk and then stop and read the names of people who died as a result of the Holocaust during World War II. The family remembered with these stones was deported to Auschwitz and included three children.
This sculpture shows a Vietnamese man going off to war. His mother and his child hang onto his arms. The Vietnam war lasted for twenty years- 1955-1975. Thousands of children lost their lives and countless others became orphans because their parents were killed.
David Letterman’s interview with President Zelensky of Ukraine was a good reminder that while adults start wars- it is children who pay the highest price for them.