Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The War

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.

7 comments:

wa11z said...

Truer words have never been spoken. I think it still affects this country to a large extent. Every war since has probably been compared to it.

trinamick said...

I know my grandfather came back a changed man. He says anyone who thinks war is a glorious thing has clearly never been in a war. He lives in a vet's home now, and he says very few of the guys in there approve of the current war. As he says, "the only people who think war has anything to do with patriotism are politicians and those who've haven't experienced it."

magnetbabe said...

My step mother's parents were holocaust survivors. They came to the US shortly after liberation and started a family. I can't even begin to tell you the problems they had being emotionally available to their children which creates a cycle of detachment that propagates through entire families. I have done a little bit of research on the children of holocaust survivors and how they are often psychologically scarred by being raised by parents who are literally shells of humans. I never thought that this generation would still be so greatly impacted by the War, but the wounds have not come close to healing.

MyUtopia said...

I saw clips of this the other day I had wanted to see it but keep forgetting.

TheWriteGirl said...

I had wondered what he could possibly tell us that we hadn't heard already about the war. But leave it to Ken Burns. He touched on a subject that really has been overlooked. It had a huge effect on everyone. My dad was in the service then but thankfully because of his eyesight he didn't go into combat.

I think one of the reasons that we feel the effect of WWII so profoundly is because it's still within living memory of so many people. They can still talk to us about it. According to historians though, it was World War I that really changed everything. The fallout from that war set in motion events that influenced everything that happened for the rest of the century. But I'm getting way off topic here. I'll shut up now.

Dave said...

The wonders of TiVo, I have it for this weekend.

I just wrote a post about our current adventure and as I read your post started thinking about the differences. My parents, your grandparents were part of the "Greatest Generation." Their war was, if any war can be called this, an honorable war. Since then?

I kind of long for the days that we didn't start wars.

Kathleen said...

I wish more people listened to Trina's Grandfather.