Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Canada (01/29/09)
TITLE: Canadian Escape
By Karen Heslink
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It was early in May that Bob told me he had to go. I was devastated. The sense of foreboding that filled me left me desperate for a solution. I suggested he apply as a conscientious objector. He said he had. and it was denied. In the next moment, the world stopped spinning for me. I vividly remember the early tulips in the garden outside the dining hall. I remember how intensely blue the sky was that day, and I especially remember Bob saying, “I will not be attending our graduation on Saturday.”
“Not attending graduation…but why? You’ve worked so hard to put yourself through school. How can you miss this final moment?”
“I have to, Kate. I am leaving tomorrow for Canada. It is the only way I can escape the service. Do you think I’m a coward?”
No, I knew Bob was not a coward, but I didn’t know if he was doing the right thing. In spite of my foreboding, somehow I just didn’t know. My brain would not wrap around any part of the idea. Out of respect for Bob, I skipped graduation, too, as did many members of my class. It was one last way to say to the establishment, “We don’t like what you are doing to our generation.”
Over the years, I received an occasional letter from my friend across the border. He has done well in his adopted country, teaching biology as he had planned to do here in the states, marrying a lovely French Canadian girl and fathering several children. The friendship, weak from time and distance, is still one of my fondest memories from those four years in my life. Once in awhile, I just stop and wonder how it might have been if Bob, and so many young men, had not had to take refuge in another country in order to stand up for what they believed. How terribly hard for everyone who knew and loved each one of them. But then I think…what about all the ones who can never come home because they gave their lives for that war. Now almost forty years later, I still can’t figure it all out and probably never will, but my memories of Bob remain sweet.
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