Indigo Insights

Sunday, January 05, 2003

The Rachel Lucas Quiet Heroes project (link to Piquant Rants at right and start looking for links) has evoked much retrospection. Some of my memories of the FDR years of WWII are as vivid today as if they were the Clinton years. Those were my growing up years, and the ones with the most impact in forming what would be me.

Patriotism and love of country was not expounded upon, dissected, or discussed, per se, at our family dinner table. They were just there, palpable in the room. Dinner talk was either about the status of the war or a subject pertaining to the War Effort. On Sundays, Mother's talk was frequently another apology for there being no dessert! "But we all know who is getting our sugar: our fighting men. And they deserve it much more than we do.", she'd say. That was War Effort conversation. Other than shortages of pre-war "luxuries" (not complaints, just reminiscences of "remember when we had . . ."), Daddy's Victory Garden was another topic. He had not had his hands in the soil since he left the farm and joined the army at age 17. College was not an option with eleven brothers and sisters. Furthermore, the army had to be better than hard farm life. Or so he thought. At any rate, he was already married and aged out of the draft when the war began. He was quite proud of his Victory Garden. When Americans were asked to plant gardens to supplement the food supply, most people started digging in their back yards the next day. Innate patriotism. When it was suggested to American children that collecting scrap metal for melting down to make battleships, and saving pennies until there was a dime to buy a Victory Stamp, would help our nation win the war, we children went to work. Inherent love of country.

News of the war came into our home every night via the radio that was as big as today's entertainment centers. Two or three times a week, the family would go to the movies (a dime for adults; a nickel for children under 12!) to see the latest "newsreels". These were pre-television visuals of actual combat and other foreign footage provided so the events heard about on radio could be seen. These films were made by some very brave photographers, canned in big metal containers, flown to the U.S., and copied for distribution to theaters all over the country. So as a child I heard about the battles, heroes, famous generals, and yes, even the Holocaust, usually before the events were in the next day's newspaper. Then, in a few days, I saw the movies. Years later when I was in high school, but still before details of WWII had made it into some text books, in history class one day I referred to Iwo Jima and the raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi to the astonishment of the teacher. He asked me where I learned about that. I told him by listening to the news of the war and viewing newsreels when I was growing up. Oddly enough (not Reuters odd, but odd nevertheless) other students had not heard of Mount Suribachi, even though they HAD heard that we won the war!

It seems that many children growing up today are not really current on current events. During the Bosnian conflict, someone asked me "What's a Bosnia?" God's Truth!