Archive for the ‘WWII’ category

D-DAY – COOPER AND OUR YOUNG PEOPLE

June 6, 2017

D-Day:  The Sixth of June.   1944.     Lest we forget.

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Some of you know Cooper is my grandson.   He’s a typical six-year-old;  he plays and swims and skis and kayaks and white-water rafts (down the beautiful and rather tame Truckee River)  and he golfs and he takes dance lessons and he plays violin, he’s just discovered reading —  and he appreciates some good red balloons!

Cooper aNd bigred balls cr

That’s his home, on Donner Lake,  California.

He can do all those activities  BECAUSE   American   young people did this:

DDay arricing

 

16, 17, 18 . . . 20 year olds  . . .   24,  30, 32,   38 year olds . . .  and every young man in between arrived on those Normandy beaches for an impossibly difficult mission.

 

Not everyone made it to the beach:

dday dragging

Up and over, right into German artillery – firing at them.

DDay hump

So many died.   I don’t think they’d want us to forget their story.

Because our young people in uniform do things like that,  Cooper can remain safe and play and learn . . . .

 

 

We MUST make sure our young people are taught this, once again.  

 

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PEARL HARBOR & THE AGE OF MAN(HOOD)

December 7, 2016

(The local news gets personal.)

Our local television news decided to run a feature story on the USS Utah today.  They showed the Utah,  the Utah being blown up at Pearl Harbor, and a little of the museum they made out of its wreckage.

This 07 December 1941 file photo obtaine

Now,  the USS Utah is the ship my grandpa served on in World War One!    After its service it was taken to Pearl Harbor and used for bomb and torpedo sightings, where my uncle was stationed at the time.      But the Japanese are the ones who actually sunk it.

Afterwards  it was put to rights –

utah-on-side

My grandpa enlisted in the Navy when he was 18 years old.  

My dad enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was 17 years old.

When I was 18 and even when I was 17,  I didn’t think there was anything remarkable about those ages . . .   it sure felt old enough.   After all,  I was leaving home and going away to college and to  a job and new home of my own.

But a few decades later I had a son.

You want to know why there are all those paintings of the Madonna and Child?  All those Christmas cards with the Madonna and Child?

madonna

It’s because a woman looks on in wonder as her son grows up to be a man.    But!    Her son lives in her heart in all the ages he ever was,  including the most tender  and innocent stage of his being.    The wondrous person her little son started out to be,  with all its promise and hope;  yes, he grows up,   but the love began at his beginning and it never fades.

So when my son became 17 and then 18 years old,   and I thought of my dad and my grandpa at that age,  signing up to go to war . . .    Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

It is unthinkable!

Whew!   We’ve had no wars where mothers must  make this sacrifice. . . .

And now a little story:    I heard an author on the radio last night who had just written a new book on Pearl Harbor.   He said he did all his own original research for the book, so it could be a clear and new as possible.

Among the interviews he read (and conducted)  was a man who had been at Pearl Harbor.    The man said most of the officers were sleeping that early morning of December 7th  on shore,  but the men on the ships were the very young sailors.    The author  said he hadn’t realized how   young that  group of men were who  served on those ships,  young and innocent and unsophisticated.

He said it was a Wally Cleaver world!

wally-cleaver

Wally Cleaver

I do hope you are familiar with the older brother of the Beave,    in Leave it to Beaver.  Wally was a typical teenager of his times,   good, sincere,  open to the world,  a little bit on the klutzy edge of approaching adulthood.     A real guy.

Echoing the attitude of Wally Cleaver,   this interviewee of the author of the new Pearl Harbor book said,  after watching the ships blowing up,  “Gee,  we didn’t even know the Japs were sore at us!!”

Why was Japan mad at us?    Why would they bomb us?

Well, there are all kinds of “grown-up”  theories about why Pearl Harbor happened.  We may never know the complete truth,  but we do know that many, many, many of these very young men,  teenagers,   learned how to fight hard for their country and many, many died.

It’s a heck of a way to grow up into manhood.

flag-dont-tread

 

 

 

 

MAY 8, ONE PERSON’S STORY

May 8, 2015

May 8th,  Victory in Europe Day.   (It’s not ancient history to me – or to many of you!)

As it happens,  I have three postings for today (which I may or may not get to today), but I’ll start with the most fundamental one,   the little story about why I exist, because if it weren’t for May 8th, and the Victory we celebrate today,  it is quite  unlikely my Dad-to-be would have survived the war, and he would not have had this daughter.

Dad PFCDad used to tell me of his Marine Corps training.    It was early Spring, 1945.     Camp LeJeune.     Combat training was a matter of life and death.   At the time it was Western Civilization versus aggressive forms of socialism,  both fascist and marxist.  The young men were being trained to defend their nations,  their religions and  cultures, their freedoms, and their families.

Training itself was a matter of life and death.

combat training North Carolina

combat training North Carolina

Dad told me of the swamps, the quicksand,  the mud, the mosquitoes,  the barbed wire 8 inches above the ground that the young men had to stay under,  and the live rounds whizzing just over their heads.   Some of his friends didn’t make it, killed by the bullets.   Some just couldn’t make it;  took less honorable ways out.

But the Germans and the Japanese would be a lot harder on them than any Marine D.I..

Sure I was proud of my Dad, just for making it through basic training,  although the whole thing was incomprehensible to me, a little girl.

There was another challenge to their courage coming up.   Dad’s unit got the orders to join the war theater.   They lived out of their … their  duffel bag things waiting for the ship to take them away.   Slept in a big gym, all ready to go at a minute’s notice.

But two things happened.     Germany surrendered, and it was uncertain what and when and where Dad’s unit would be sent out to.     Couple months in that gym — in the North Carolina heat.   One insignificant Marine Unit, a bit overlooked, but commissioned now to become a part of that big all-out, once-and-for-all invasion of Japan.

The second thing that happened is that after a lot of behind the scenes politics, physics, and uncertainty,  by the end of that summer a decision was made to “drop the bomb” on Japan.

Suddenly VJ Day was added to VE Day.

My Dad,  18 1/2 years old,  and the young Marines with him, never got to go to Japan.

And I got to be here, living in a land that held freedom as a sacred trust.    I, for one, honor those in and around their 90s now, on this “minor holiday,”  and I thank them.