Phyllis McGuire | View from the Village: When will we learn there are no winners in war?

Phyllis McGuire

WILLIAMSTOWN — My heart swells with hope when I sit among my fellow parishioners in church, singing "Let there be peace on earth /And let it begin with me ... with God as our father / Brothers all are we / Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony."

But harsh reality cannot be denied as I read of heightening tensions that threaten our peace.

In early October, Business Insider reported that Defense Secretary James Mattis told the annual convention of the U.S. Army that they should "be ready" with military options should diplomacy fail with North Korea. And according to CNN, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said of a (possible) war with North Korea: "It would be horrible, there's no question about it, but so would an intercontinental ballistic missile striking Los Angeles or New York City. That would be equally horrible."

It's deja vu, I say to myself, remembering the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when we were on the brink of a nuclear war.

Living with my parents on Long Island then, I went to bed at night wondering if I would wake up to the news of Florida or even New York City being devastated by missile attacks.

Twenty years earlier, as a young child, I ran to my bedroom window when newsboys in the street below hawked papers: "WAR!" Military deaths in World War II have been estimated at 20 to 25 million.

Now, admittedly, I fear that my 23-year-old old grandson, Nick, might be called upon to take up arms for our country. In his last visit, we touched on that subject. "Of course, I would serve if needed," he said.

A couple of years ago, Nick asked if he could have the shoulder insignia his late grandfather had worn on his uniform when he had served in the armed forces. "Your grandfather would want you to have them. He would be proud of the man you've grown to be," I told Nick, who was but 6 when his grandfather died.

As for talk of missile attacks being launched against the United States, my children and their families reside in New York. They are my life, and I fear for their safety.

How upset I was on 9/11 when I was unable to contact my children. I wished my late husband, dear Bill, was there to assure me everything would be OK, as he used to.

My daughter, Jennifer, was able to call me about 9 p.m. It was nearly midnight when my son called to tell me he had arrived home safely after fetching his fiancee from Manhattan, where she worked. She had been literally stranded as subways and other modes of transportation had been shut down.

Several of my grandchildren's friends lost parents in the terrorist attack on the twin towers. I cannot even imagine how shocked and grief-stricken those children were when told their mother or father had been killed — never again to read them a story, send them off to school with a kiss, comfort them when they awaken from a nightmare.

I feel that the attack on the twin towers sparked my sister Gloria's decline. She lived in a high-rise where she watched in horror as black smoke spiraled from the twin towers, darkening the sky. After that, she stayed in her apartment for weeks and eventually did not want to leave at all. Was it fear, not just dementia, that ultimately led to her death?

There are no statistics showing how many people have suffered unseen, untold misery from horrendous acts perpetrated by those motivated by hate, God's enemy and the devil's handmaiden.

When will humans realize there truly are no winners in a war; lives are sacrificed, families are torn apart, dreams are shattered and homes are destroyed.

Some people believe prayers are useless, but my requests for seemingly impossible positive conclusions to dreadful situations have been granted in the past. I will continue praying, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me."


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