I'm a little behind on posts, but I definitely wanted to get to this one. PDM and I started watching the new Ken Burns documentary The War on Sunday night. The series focuses on four American towns and how they experienced WWII. Early on in Part I, the narrator says something to the effect that this war touched every family in America. My first thought was something like "Wow. That's quite a statement." And then the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was probably true.
My family certainly changed as a result of the war. Big Daddy's brother Johnny was killed. (Big Daddy is my grandfather on my mother's side.) From family lore, Uncle Johnny was reputed to be funnier than Big Daddy and his other brother Warren put together, and that is really saying something! Uncle Johnny looks so kind and handsome and down-to-earth in the photo of him in uniform. I wish I could have met him. My Dad's father came back a changed man, which eventually led to his divorce from my grandmother and estrangement from Dad, who never forgave him for deserting his family. He returned from the war with some very bad habits. An alcoholic, he died alone, of cirrhosis of the liver. I never met the man, even though he lived nearby when I was growing up. Such a waste, and so much sadness all around. Other family members served as well. I have vintage photos and mementos from my Uncle Robert's time in Europe, including a photo of Bob Hope performing for the troops.
It really does seem like no one could have lived through that time and come out unscathed. Surely everyone would have had a family member or friend who was dramatically changed by that war. It was such a defining moment for our country and the world. Events so enormous as to be nearly beyond comprehension, while at the same time, the effects were so intensely personal.