Oh, I know what young people might say, “Aw, he’s just an old fart who doesn’t even know how to text anyone.” Let me tell you youngsters something you won’t learn in school. I have lived through a chunk of American history that you will never experience. And at 88 years of age, God has allowed me to live long enough to tell you about it. Yes, I grew up without all the great technology and innovations and conveniences of modern America. I am a realist. I know that my life is winding down. But I would NOT change anything for having lived in the time period in which I grew up. I managed to survive the Great Depression. You will never have to go hungry but maybe you should. It would make you appreciate a good meal on the table. And, most importantly, I lived through a time in America when this country was completely UNITED to fight WW-II. This was a period when the entire country, military and civilians, were totally devoted to one cause. Our nation will never have the chance to come together as we all did in the 1930s and 1940s.
Of course, war is hell. War is about killing people and blowing up and burning things. America did not want to go to war. We had isolationists, including hero Charles Lindbergh, who spoke out against America becoming involved in “Europe’s war.” I can understand that. My father served in France in WW-I and if he had died, I wouldn’t be here. Had the Japanese not sneak-attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 we might not have entered the conflict. Of all people, I should regret WW-II because my beloved brother gave his life in that conflict. My sister, a schoolteacher, left her school job and went to work in a bomb manufacturing plant. My mom became the head of the Gold Star Mothers in North Carolina. We kids “borrowed” mom’s aluminum pots and her bacon grease and turned them in for the “War Effort.” We took our quarters to school and bought War Stamps which we pasted into a booklet. When (or if) we had $18.75 in it we could trade it in for a $25.00 War Bond redeemable at the end of the war.
Those of you who have enjoyed the benefits of Americans giving their lives to save western civilization will never experience the “feeling” of the unity in this country. It prevailed EVERYWHRE. All areas of our lives were affected. I was 13 years old when the D-Day (6 June 1944) invasion of Normandy, France took place. My family listened to the progress of the war on the radio. We heard Hitler’s speeches. We heard Edward R. Murrow reporting during the nightly blitz-bombing of London by the German Luftwaffe. We followed the progress of the troops on maps in the newspapers, which did responsible reporting in those days. In my school envision we young boys knitting yarn into squares that were supposed to be made into blankets for wounded soldiers in hospitals. I played a bugle in a drum and bugle corps that marched down the roads playing behind the flying American flag.
Democrats and Republicans said, “We are ONE party now” and they were. We had no coffee, very little sugar, meat, cigarettes, gasoline, tires, no new cars – and many of us who were too young to be in the military, joined and trained in the Civil Air Patrol. Few people complained. If they did, they were met with a chorus of, “Don’t you know there’s a war on?” To see this country so unified was a rarity that won’t happen again. So, I wish you all good health and a long life. But I would not exchange the era in which I grew up for any other time in American history.