Thursday, October 23, 2008

Generation's end

42 talks about his Uncle Ernie, last of the WWII generation in his family. The last of that generation in my family also died recently. Coincidentally, his name was Ernest too. He was my great-uncle on my mother's side, and was one of my grandmother's brothers.

Those guys are pretty much all gone now. A lot of history going with them, because they never did talk much about what they did, and what they did was something amazing that had never been done before and never will be done again because we just are not the nation that we were in 1941, for better or for worse. We may be more tolerant now, but for lack of a better word, we lack grit. Those dudes storming ashore at Normandy weren't wimps. Most folks today... crap, they shit their britches on command whenever Dear Leader says "Boo!".

Those old farts weren't perfect by any means. They were all too willing to believe anything that anybody in authority told them to believe, they were racist as all get-out (though at least fair-minded enough to pass civil rights laws -- they might not have wanted to send their child to the same school as nigras, but laws giving blacks fewer civil rights stuck in their craw), and they did a terrible job of raising their children, the Baby Boomers. Still, the nation and the world are poorer for their departure.

-- Badtux the Memorial Penguin


  1. My grandfather died about 20 years ago his part of the story lost forever because he never told it to anyone. All I know is that he was a Marine and served in the Pacific. If I knew of a way to do it, I would love to see if I could piece together what his tour of duty was but that would not be the same.

    It was not something that he talked about not even to grandma. If he did, she's not talking either. It seems to be a rather common theme.

  2. My Dad was a WW2 veteran too , even tho he never left the US .
    He spoke to me once about his having " debriefed " some of the American Japanese Soldiers after the war . Thier stories , retold by my Dad changed my life forever .
    It showed to me a young child at the time , just how ugly and stupid Racism can be . And , it left a lifelong respect for combat vets as well .
    I am sad that my Dads rememberances are gone now with his passing . It seems that many others in our country could have grown a little wiser from them .

  3. One of the many interesting things about working in hospital is hearing the war stories of the old guys (and in some cases, old ladies, mainly the Poms who served in homefront sectors like air defence during the Blitz.)

    I've talked to people including a Russian who served on a tank in the Kursk salient, and an Italian who was training for their navy in the Venice lagoon when the fascist government buggered out of the war in 1943, so he got transported to a German labour camp as punishment; and any number of Eastern Europeans who were similarly enslaved. So much horror in the world...

    It makes forgotten aspects of the war seem so much more real to me, even though I've been a boffin on the subject since I was a kid. (One of the main reasons I got political is because my mom used to drop me off at the library near Eastover, in Price George's County Md. and I'd spend time thumbing through the war books. At 6 years old, seeing photos of Jewish bodies stacked like cordwood in the death camps, was a searing experience.)

    In spite of the current difficulties, Americans have no gut feeling for how bad so much of the rest of the world has had it. And one by one, the lights of memory are going out as members of the war generation pass. Thus it ever was, like with the dying of the doughboys from WW I, and the Civil War vets, and Romans from the Illyrian Legion who fought against the Ostrogoths in Dacia...

    But we keep on replacing them with more who will fight in the next war, don't we? As John Prine sung, "And all the news just repeats itself, like some forgotten dream, that we've both seen..."


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