a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Friday, April 27, 2007

Child soldier

We all seem to know these people, the ones who complain almost endlessly about their “pathetic” problems. They can be especially annoying when they appear to have otherwise successful lives, and the money to afford to keep their families warm and safe.

These folks should be required to read “A Long Way Gone,” the memoirs of a boy soldier from Sierra Leone, Africa. One day Ishmael Beah is a 9-year-old learning to rap songs from America with his friends. Almost overnight, he has an AK-47 strapped to his back after a mass movement of refugees attempt to flee violence in his homeland. He is swallowed up by the government army by the time he reaches his 13th birthday, only to be rescued by UNICEF three years later.

“Memories I sometimes wish I could wash away, even though I am aware that they are an important part of what my life is; who I am now,” Beah writes in his book.

Somehow, he manages to find the courage to come to grips with his past, even though he could find more than enough on his plate to complain about. But he gazes out with joy in his eyes and a wide smile in a photograph from the book’s back cover.

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