Charles Schulz is famous for creating the beloved cartoon, Peanuts. Charlie Brown, Lucy, Peppermint Patty, Linus, Marcy, and of course, Snoopy, have become icons throughout the world.
But what many people might not know is that Charles Schulz served in World War II as a staff sergeant. He was in Europe with the Twentieth Armored Division after D-Day and saw combat.
In the (too) short cartoon, Charlie Brown, Linus, Marcy, and Peppermint Patty, along with Snoopy, are in France as exchange students. While headed for the coast of Normandy, they take a wrong turn, and end up right near Omaha Beach. When Linus realizes where they are, he recalls the lessons he learned about D-Day and the Allied invasion and shares them with the other children. Real footage is blended within the cartoon to create an intriguing piece of art that manages to show the bold sacrifice and courage of that day without being frightening for the children's audience it was intended for.
As the kids explore the American cemetery, Dwight Eisenhower's voice emerges, discussing the Allies' fight for freedom against the tyranny of the Axis' powers. The next day, the kids end up in a field filled with poppies, and Linus recites the poem "In Flanders Field" by John McRae. Red poppies cover this particular cemetery that is filled with the fallen from World War I, and the words are haunting.
It is at the end of this poem that Linus turns to Charlie Brown and says, "What have we learned, Charlie Brown?"
The question is never answered, and this makes the short film all the more powerful. It is a question for children and adults, and it is one that is open-ended for a reason.
What have we learned?