What struck me most when I read, Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, was the ongoing theme of the young boys of the villages who were forced to give up their childhood. The war that took over their lives forced the children to flee from their families, friends, homes, and schools. The main character in the story, Ishmael Beah was only 12 at the time the war invaded his village. He lost his family and his home in one day. He was forced to see horrific and terrifying murders, deaths of children, and torture inflicted on various civilians. He somehow managed to escape with a few other boys and began his long journey, not really knowing where he was running to. He slept in the forests, hid most of his days in fear and starvation.
When he finally reached a village that he believed to be safe, the army men forced the young teen boys to become soldiers as well to fight off the rebels. At first, Beah was terrified of killing another human being. The soldiers motivated the young boys by telling them that the rebels they will be killing are responsible for killing their families. After the first day or two in the forest fighting, Beah had become immune to the killing, and his soul seemed to become hardened. His days were from then on filled with killing, raiding villages, stealing goods, doing drugs, and watching war movies. It seemed as though he knew nothing but war and seemed to get used to it somehow. In the book, he writes,
“The five men were lined up in front of us on the training ground with their hands tied. We were suppose to slice their throats on the corporals command. ….I didn’t feel a thing for him, didn’t think much about what I was doing. I just waited for the corporals order. The prisoner was simply another rebel who was responsible for the death of my family, as I had come to truly believe. “
I was curious about the idea of boy soldiers who are forced to fight in a war at such a young age, and wondered where else in the world this has or is happening. According to an article titled, Innocence Lost: the Child Soldiers Forced to Murder. A young boy in eastern Congo, ten years of age, was forced to become a soldier at such a young age. Although he survived, he faced traumatic events tat will always haunt him as he attempts to enter back in to civilian life.
Beah, I. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. p. 124
Innocence Lost: the Child Soldiers Forced to Murder. Dec, 2008 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/innocence-lost-the-child-soldiers-forced-to-murder-1052026.html