Memories of the Second World War came home to me recently when I was on a Danube river cruise with Jackson friends, Margaret Vise, Ann Barksdale, Carol Kirkland and my roommate, Edrie Royals.
Nearing an end to the voyage, one of our stays was the city of Prague where we had a choice of tours, one of them, the concentration camp, Terezin.
Eight years old when WWII began, in many ways those long distant hours and days are forever with me, as I am sure they are with most of us who lived during those world-changing times and are still alive.
Piecemeal, I have never been free of some of the names, places and dates from those years.
The Bataan death march-Normandy.
December 7, 1941— D-Day, 1945- August 1945. World War II ended.
Turning back the hands of time it seems I recall where I was and what I was doing, when it was brought home that America was at war and our lives would never be the same.
Please keep in mind though, some of the words I pen, henceforth and forevermore may be subject to error and need correcting, every now and then ye old sewing machine can run low on thread. A few moments of memory may turn into a fantasy, and perhaps even do a fan dance to the tune of, “There’ll be bluebirds over, the white cliffs of Dover.”
I can’t tell you exactly what time of day the news was broadcast, but after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress and the Nation via radio.
Ann Hand Dunbar, Frank and Jimmy Collette, brother Alvin and I were playing outside. We had a large, floor model Philco radio in our living room and it seems as if some of our neighbors, the Hands and the Collettes, were with our parents listening to news about the attack on Pearl Harbor, which had happened the day before.
On December 8, 1941 Roosevelt declared that with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, World War II had started. We Eagle Avenue children had no idea of what was going on but quickly picked up on the excitement and tension, not realizing our lives would be different, henceforth and forevermore. A world-changing evil needed to be stopped and America was united.
In the past few years I have come across a few articles about the ‘swaying propaganda’ that was so prevalent in our country during World War II and the children who became victims of this propaganda.
I, your humble correspondent, did much better when everything worked with an “On” and “Off” switch and I was one of the many caught up in and absorbed by the ‘swaying propaganda’ of those years. Yet I must say with pride and thanksgiving, even down to this day, I never felt like a victim.
I did not in any way see as ‘swaying propaganda’ the posters, movies and radio broadcasts that brought home to us the horror and pain of the oppressed, the thought that our country could also be invaded, and the pride in our troops. Rather, we tended to come away with a stronger sense that we needed to be unified and we were proud to do our small part. Even if it was just collecting tin cans and saving pennies, nickels, and dimes.
I must almost reverently add, thank you. Thank you that we, and so much of the world were united. Thank you that we did not turn the other cheek on these evils against humanity. This was a time when we were fighting to protect our homeland and to help save others from the evil clutches of those who planned to conquer, dominate and rule mankind.
Thank you to the ‘Greatest Generation’.
Please forgive me if I step on anyone’s splayed toes with what I’m writing, but those we admired during the World War II years were not some of the toaded, spoiled celebrity stars so many seem to worship nowadays.
Our heroes were persons of nobility and courage; Joe DiMaggio, Audie Murphy, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Paul Newman, Ed McMahon, Lee Marvin, Robert Stack, Charlton Heston, Gene Autry, Chuck Conners. Recently some of us learned about Hacksaw Ridge and the conscientious objector, Desmond Doss, and the many lives saved by this man. And close to home, there were two young men across the street from the Hands, Collettes and the Brents on Eagle Avenue, who were killed in far away countries, protecting us and other people’s lives.
Now, on this day in 2018, touring on a river cruise ship, we were close to where some of the most brutalizing and inhumane moments in the World War II conflict occurred, the death camps of Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Germany.
As a child of those years, and with fading pictures from the past still in my being, there was no question which tour I would take: the concentration camp, Terezin.