I’ve set up a goal for myself to read a book a week-quite unrealistic, but it keeps me reading. I am on a WWII binge. Last week I highlighteda book I ended up buying I loved it so much.
This week I read:
I loved this book! Each chapter starts with lots of history but I skipped that part (not that it’s not interesting just that I wanted to get to the good parts before I nodded off) and then was full of letters written by sons and daughters, and grandchildren of veterans, or veterans themselves in response to Tom Brokaw’s first book called The Greatest Generation (which I want to go back and reread now.)
SO inspiring, and also tissues needed-these incredible sacrifices made by these women and men-mothers, wives, children, and the men and women veterans themselves. So many lives lost. I turned down a few pages of little quotes I wanted to remember. I also found myself even more disillusioned at the present state of our political race. It’s a shame really-an utter shame considering the lives and sacrifices made for us to live in this wonderful country, all the son buried all over this world, never to be hugged by their mothers again.. The words ’embarrassing’, ‘ignorance’, and ‘circus’ and ‘shameful’ come to mind to describe it all from the candidates to the media covering them to all the ridiculous talk and outright immature games being played to the money to the scandals-it’s basically the opposite of every value this Greatest Generation embraced.
Anyways, here are a few little excerpts from various letters I wanted to remember from the book:
This one really encompasses so much and I want to write more on this later-things I am seeing that made me so angry when it comes to parents as role models, and a short conversation I had with a grandmother about honoring parents with good dutiful responsible behavior for LIFE.
“The Depression was a leveler too. I grew up in what was considered a middle-class family-by today’s standards we would be considered poor, but nobody came around to tell us so. Everyone was in the same boat, and extended families helped each other. I wore many clothes that had belonged to one of my cousins or my big brothers. Getting some bit of clothing of your own that was new was a big event. There were many people who had much less than we did, but they never let on and we never knew. The community sort of stuck together and family was very important. Parent were role models. I remember getting into a lot of mischief when I was growing up but nothing really bad. In the back of my mind was always the thought, “Don’t ever do anything to bring disgrace to your family.” I never thought of “me first” or “do your own thing,” and neither did anyone else. I am sure that these traits helped us in combat to stick together and look out of each other.”
This little series of letters was heartbreaking, but it stood out to me because of the young young age these men (kids really) left their homes to fight the war. Most of them seemed to be married young by today’s standards-early 20’s. Wonder why that has changed and if it is for the better, especially after the last book I read, it really has me pondering all that. It seems like these couples built a life together early on and were “grown-ups” must quicker than happens today and were so much more grateful and satisfied with their own small home and food on the table and a decent job and their children.
“Dear Mom-You shouldn’t bake cookies with tears in your eyes, Mom, you know that isn’t good for you. Charlie and I will be all right, so don’t you worry. When we are back in town you’l never even know we were away. And how are you doing Dad? You had better watch out when they get you back in the army, I’ll admit that they do need a lot of guys like you that know their stuff, but the army has changed. See you all later, Good nite, good luck and God Bless You, Art.”
Another written by Art:
“Dear Mom and Dad-
Bettie and the girls left on Sunday nite too, but they should have gotten there sometime this morning because nothing could move as slow as the troop train we’re riding on. I don’t know just how she is going to like the place, but if it’s very bad, I’m going to send her home. I’ll hate to see her go because since she’s been out here with me, I’ve had the happiest time of my life. I know that I got the pick of the lot when I got married, and you should see me, I’ve changed a lot. Did you know that this is the longest I’ve been away from Bettie since she’s been out here. That shows you how much we’ve been seeing each other. We’ve been married for seven months, two weeks, and four days and I’m just as much in love now as I was the day we got hitched.
Good nite, good luck and God Bless You All Art.”
There are a few more letters from this collection, written by a boy that sounded just like all of ours do-excited to be young, excited to see the world, missing home and you can sense the heartbreak and worry and pride his parents are feeling. And then there is this:
“My Dear Mrs. Nicholls-
With profound regret I have learned that your husband, Second Lietuenant Arthur Herbert Nicholls, missing in action on May 13, 1943, has since been reported killed in an engagement…”
How many thousands and thousands of letters like this were sent back and forth? It is truly heartbreaking and humbling and we must be filled with gratitude and a sense of duty and respect but it seems to me like we’ve forgotten it all and certainly haven’t done a great job of teaching it to our children (I know I could do better!).
This one little sentence by a veteran summed up so much of The Greatest Generation:
“Coming of age during the great depression and the Second World War united us with a common purpose and common values:
love of family and country,
and responsibility for one’s self.”
There you have it-and there is what we have a duty to uphold and what I would call our country’s values of yesteryear that we have lost or are losing or feel like we must fight for from WITHIN, which is terribly frustrating and plain wrong.
Another excerpt written by a veteran:
“I agree that a majority of those who endured the Great Depression, World War II and helped rebuild this country, were folks, inculcated with a deep sense of honor duty, patriotism, loyalty, work ethic, and respect for God, country and self. I do respectfully disagree however that we are the “Greatest Generation”. I tip my hat the generation preceding us, our parents and grandparents, who instilled in us those principles of honor, duty, loyalty and patriotism and respect as well as the work ethic. They taught us to “make do” and to get our joy from out companionship and loyalty to and from our friends.”
A video worth watching: