Sunday, October 21, 2001

The Old Gent
(The Sequel)

After I told you about “The Old Gent”, I realized that OG rides again and he’s me.
Now, at three score and ten I’m my own grandpa. Sometimes I forget... (everything!)
but tonight I realized that there is a big gap between the people who were born before WW II and the ones who came after.
Like the Boomers - sure they’re not exactly kids anymore - Cher is pushing 55 or something and the surviving Beatles are running hard to stay in place but the gap is still the War.

So what’s the big difference? Why should a few years separate me and my generation from those who came later?
The War (not the Korean police action, not Vietnam, not the Gulf War and obviously not the current disaster)

World War II, “the last of the great wars” was the one that made heroes of all serviceman,
“our boys overseas” in Okinawa and Wake Island, the Phillipines, Burma, Dunkirk, the Battle of the Bulge, Salerno, Normandy, Berlin etc.

The kids that were growing up while the troops battled overseas, were reminded day and night on radio and in the newsreels, in Life Magazine and all the newspapers in the U.S. that our troops were “making the world safe for Democracy”, and they were heroes, every single one of them.

My uncle Gene, who beat up his wife regularly and then knocked her up before he went back to his outfit was a hero.
The kid whose dad ran the liquor store on the corner and took bets on the side was a hero.
My dad, who was rejected because he was almost blind in one eye was not a hero

1 comment:

Anna said...

hunh. interesting.

it certainly seems like a simpler war, in some ways. i mean, it's hard to feel equivocal about hitler and his "solutions," final or no. but the gulf and vietnam and the current situation -- their worthiness is all up for debate. i feel badly for the boys in iraq, not proud of them. and i certainly feel badly for the iraqis. what a mess.

this christmas jay gave me Canadian History for Dummies. we've been reading it together in the evenings before bed while we're on the road and i have to say that although i abhore armed conflict and am deeply worried by the so-called industrial military complex, i felt really proud of canada's participation in both world wars. we're such a tiny country, but we were famous fighters -- conquering seemingly insurmountable obstacles, prevailing on spirit and ingenuity. we lost a relatively large percentage of our population. every once in a while i get this urge to run out and find vetrans to talk to. i want to hear more about all this from the horse's mouth.

anyway, reading about the world wars, i felt proud of all those pimply faced young, young men fighting for what they thought was right. it's heartbreaking, really.