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Eyes of the Past
The rumbling of the bus going over uneven pavement made my stomach groan. I had no books, pens, or journals to occupy me. A man that seemed to be in his mid-thirties was next to me, enjoying something that the rest of the passengers couldn’t see. Had it not been for the passion in his fluorescent green eyes, I wouldn’t have said a word.
“Sir, what are you watching?” His eyes lit up.
“World War II.”
“What’s World War II?”
“Only the greatest war in history.”
History? I had never recalled taking a history class. It wasn’t an option.
“Let me show you.”
He put his fingers in his eyes to take out his contacts, handing them to me. My heart jumped to the back of my chest as I saw grenades exploding, men being blown to bits, their friends having to watch them die. And the schools, they tried to pretend like it never happened.
“You enjoy watching this stuff?” I didn’t know what I felt; sadness, anger, confusion?
“I don’t enjoy it. I need to know it.
“About 91 years ago, a fight broke out all over the world. Hitler, the dictator of Germany at the time, had a strong hatred for Jews. He led a group called the Nazis. This group started what is known as the Holocaust, the mass murders of Jews in Europe between 1942 to 1945. Millions of Jews were killed in vulgar ways, and most of Europe had no idea what was happening, except for the ones who were taken to the concentration camps. Many European nations went to war against Germany. To add to this, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 and America went to war against Japan.”
After his description of World War II, he told me about how America gained its freedom, how slaves -- whatever they were -- got freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, the crusades, and the Thirty Years War. I had never been taught this. After I absorbed the information of what these things meant, he told me, “There are very few records on the Earth to suggest that these events ever happened. History books, any of them with information on war or tragic events in the past, have been forced out of schools. Do you know why?”
I shook my head, feeling uneducated.
“It’s because they want world peace. It’s impossible, in my opinion. Over multiple generations, schools have begun to sprinkle sugar over events that have happened in the past. Eventually, they stopped mentioning that wars ever happened, destroying places where history has been marked by our ancestors, tearing down museums, taking footage of events offline, tearing apart books. If people keep destroying the evidence, soon, we’ll have nothing to fight about. We won’t have difference in beliefs, school won’t mention major religions, culture wars that have fueled hate between countries will be gone, parents will forget what happened centuries ago because the education system will rip it from their brains before they discover it.”
I had to believe him. There had never been a day in my life where I’d judged someone, thought different of the way they acted, or questioned why conflicts hadn’t happened in my lifetime between different groups of people. The education system had scrubbed the evidence of wars from the ground, picked the blood and grime from underneath its fingernails, and put the names of people who fought for this country to shame. Pointing to his contacts, the man said, “I’m lucky I found these contacts before they were obliterated, because without them, there would be one less person in the world to tell the true story of what happened to this country. Well, here’s my stop.”
“Wait,” I stopped him from walking off, “where did you get the contacts, and how did the information from the wars get programmed into them?” He gave me a sly grin. Winking, he stepped off. The bus continued on. Before it picked up speed, I forced my hand onto the stop button. I didn’t offer an explanation to the driver as I rushed to find the man. He was nowhere to be found.