“Think of all the people who will die,” Maya told him, her voice breaking a little. “All the families torn apart, and all the other beautiful things that will be destroyed.”
“Yeah, Mr. President,” Cooper said, “please just think about it really carefully. Because once it’s done, it can’t be undone.”
The room became quiet again as these last few words hung in the air. Then the president looked over his young audience and nodded.
“You know what? I will think about it some more. I’m not going to lie to any of you—the idea of going to war really was in the front of my mind. That’s not so say I would’ve done it for sure, but I was certainly thinking about. Now, though…your concern has touched me deeply. It’s so easy for someone in my position to forget the consequences of my actions. Sitting there in the White House, I don’t often see the destruction, the suffering, the misery. I may see pictures or reports or whatever, but it’s not the same.” He looked away from all of them, crossing his arms and nodding some more. “Yes, you have my solemn word—I will do everything I can to avoid any type of military conflict. That’s a promise.”
Smiles broke out on the Trackers’ faces, and they let out a group cheer.
The president laughed. “Okay, let me get back to the boring speech I’m going to deliver later. And then I’ll see you again afterward, like we originally planned.”
The kids all turned and headed toward the exit. But Mr. C remained behind a moment to shake the president’s hand.
“Thank you for listening to them, sir,” he said gratefully.
“Thank you for bringing them in to talk to me,” the president replied. “I have to say, they have a remarkable sense of the importance of history. They’re so wise beyond their years. It’s almost as if they’d lived through it themselves.”
Mr. C couldn’t help smiling.
“If you only knew….” he said.
Back outside, an incredible day was unfolding. The sun was bright, the sky was blue, and the beautiful scents of spring were in the air. There were students everywhere, talking with their friends, lying in the grass to study, or hurrying from one class to the next.
Then the Trackers came to the Imagination Tree.
“Look, there’s someone sitting under it,” Maya said.
“I’ll bet he’s getting all sorts of great ideas,” Jamal guessed.
“I certainly hope so,” Chelsea added. “Because great ideas are what lead to a great future.”
“And now that we now what makes history so important…” Simon began.
“…we can use it to build the best future possible,” Gabby finished.
“I sure hope so,” Cooper said.
Then they all turned to Mr. C, who was looking proudly at the Imagination Tree.
“I think we’ll be all right,” he told them, nodding. “As long as we never forget what’s most important, I really do think we’ll be all right.”