Children's Story - Make a Friend
I’ll tell you a couple of true stories, both of which I ran across this past week. Once a soldier, whom I’ll refer to as “Joe” (as in “G.I. Joe”), got into a fist fight with another soldiers when they both were in training. All the other recruits gathered in a circle around them, and there was all sorts of hooting and hollering. I don’t know about your school, but that sort of thing used to happen now and then in the school I went to. After the fight, the other soldier said to Joe that if he ever ran into again he was going to kill him.
During the invasion of Normandy Joe jumped out of a plane at night with a parachute behind enemy lines. He got separated from his unit and was totally lost, and was very scared. He heard a noise and was startled, thinking it might be an enemy patrol, but out of the darkness there came another American soldier. At first he was glad, and then he noticed that the soldier was the man he’d had a fight with who’d said if he ever saw him again, he’d kill him. Talk about bad luck! But it turned out that this other soldier also was lost and frightened and cut off from his unit. The two men embraced each other and were friends ever after.
That was one story, and here is a similar one, also true. John Adams was the second president of the United States, and Thomas Jefferson was the third. They were from different political parties. Now in those days there weren’t Republicans and Democrats, the parties were a little different, but the feelings were the same: the other guy is going to ruin the country, and a lot of mean things were said. After the election the loser is supposed to cordially greet the winner when he comes to move into the White House, but John Adams was a bad loser and left before Jefferson got there. They too were bitter enemies.
Time passed and they grew older, and each were pushed aside by younger candidates in their own party. They came to see they had more in common with each other than with the younger generation, which inevitably had all sorts of new ideas, good and bad. You may have noticed that older people talk funny, dress funny, and often don’t get certain ideas; well, that’s true every generation. One day John Adams (who was in Massachusetts) wrote Jefferson (who was in Virginia) a friendly letter. Because they’d been enemies for so long he wasn’t even sure at the time if Jefferson would reply, but he did, and in their senior years they exchanged regular letters, which they always looked forward to, and became good friends.
Every once in a while we have an enemy, but sometimes we’ll discover that the person we thought we didn’t like can turn out to become a friend. I like to remember what Lincoln said about this, “the best way to destroy an enemy is to make him your friend.”