Friday, November 12, 2010

A Day Late

My mother, father and me in 1942. I was almost three years old.

Yesterday was Veteran's Day, but it wasn't until last evening that I had a chance to sit down and write something about it that I posted at Our Echo. It began as a Veteran's Day thoughts and suddenly veered off into my WWII memories. I was only a little girl during those war years, but I have memories of the way things were then, memories perceived from a child's view.

Maybe reading them will trigger memories of your own from those years, or the Korean Conflict, Vietnam or the present day wars. Write about them, save them in your family memories book. You do have one, don't you? If not, there's no time like the present to begin.

You can read  my Veteran's Day and WWII memories which might help trigger some of your own.

Veteran’s Day 2010 and WWII Memories
By Nancy Julien Kopp

It’s nearly the end of another Veteran’s Day. Newspapers, TV, local radio stations—all have given space to commemorating this special day.

In the troubled times we live in, I’m pleased to see the recognition of our veterans, whether they be octogenarians of WWII, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam situation, Desert Storm, the present Iraqi War or Afghanistan. Old vets or young  enlisted men and women, all are worthy of celebration and appreciation.

In my community (Manhattan, Kansas), the day began with a special breakfast with sausage and gravy on biscuits, a Midwestern specialty. The parade down our main street followed with veterans, soldiers from Ft. Riley, and 1200 school children marching proudly. Flags flapped in the strong Kansas wind this morning, and the sun spread its rays over those in the bands. More than a thousand people lined the streets, bundled in jackets to ward off the morning chill. Hearts swelled with pride and thanksgiving.

At our house today, the American flag fluttered in the strong breeze all day. It was our statement that we believe in our country. We believe in our military personnel of today and we honor those who served in the past.

I was only six years old when WWII ended, but I remember hearing the president on the radio telling the American people that the war was over. A long war which brought shortages of sugar, meat and gasoline to the American shores, while it brought loss of life to many in the European theater and in the Pacific. I remember my mother taking our ration books to the meat market and the grocery store, Dad handing his ration book over at the service station when we needed gas. He drove as little as possible to conserve on the tires. No possibility of getting new tires during wartime.

Even as a little girl, I remember another sign of shortage in WWII. A young woman who lived in the basement apartment of our section of a large apartment building provided great entertainment for me. I stood in the basement doorway as she hiked her leg over the laundry tub and painted her legs to look like she was wearing hose. She even managed to make a straight vertical line up the back of her leg to indicate a seam. When she’d finished one leg, she started on the other one. Satisfied with her artwork, she smoothed down her skirt and skipped back to her apartment.

Another WWII memory was a trip my mother, grandmother, little brother and I took. We boarded a troop train and traveled from Chicago to Phoenix to visit my mother’s brother and family. I would celebrate my fifth birthday in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. It was 1944, and perhaps some strings had to be pulled for us to be allowed to travel on that train. We had a small compartment, but during the day, I wandered up and down the aisles making friends with the soldiers, sailors and marines. I should have had a knapsack to store all the candy and gum they gave me along with the smiles and chatter. It made a big impression on me as I remember it well.

My parents were movie buffs, and they took me with them to watch the double features during the war years. Besides two full length movies, we had a cartoon and the world news shown in black and white. Battles of weeks earlier were shown while we munched on our popcorn. It seemed surreal, like it was part of the make-believe movies we also watched. Surreal until the news of a wartime death hit the family of one of our neighbors or friends.

It was all so very long ago, and yet, here we are, living through yet another war. Are the people of the world slow learners? Did they not figure out the cost of war is far higher than the benefit of the winner? Have we not learned to love one another as Jesus taught?
Perhaps not.

Meanwhile, all we can do is to tell those who have fought in the past and now that we love them and thank them and will continue to support them.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful Veteran's Day story. The part about painting on hose certainly explains how severe shortages were. If you can't get it, make due with what you have.