Posted by: Jim E | February 4, 2010

What a Missed Opportunity…

The other day on this blog I wrote about WWII in the Pacific…that was where my Dad was, on a ship, from 1943 until the end of the war…or as my Dad used to say: he signed up “For the duration.”…he used that term for a lot of things as we grew up…for anything that you were involved in  that had an ending but didn’t know exactly when it would end…you were in it “for the duration”…

For him, it was January 1946 after the war ended (1945) and he could get back to the States…I was born in February 3, 1942 (wait a minute…it’s my birthday…sort of a cheesy…aah…gratuitous way to get that in)…anyway, my birth was just after the United States got into the war, which was December 7, 1941…I don’t know if that was the official date but it was the date of Pearl Harbor…although I believe President Roosevelt spoke before a joint session of congress the next day…but for all intents and purposes, we were at war on December 7th…

My Dad, like so many others who served in WWII, said very little about the war…he always gave a disclaimer about his service…that he never was “in battle”…I think it was always, not an embarrassment, but he felt he was not as “good as those who were in battle”…he served on a mine sweeper and net tender (steel cable nets that were placed across the openings of harbors, throughout the Pacific)…he told us he was in Hawaii, Philippines and other places in the Pacific…he was in cyclones (Pacific hurricanes) where he didn’t know if they would make it…

I don’t remember this, but my Mom packed us up…my brother was 6 and I was 3…took us across the country from Minneapolis, MN to San Francisco, CA, by train…a pretty rough trip for that time…and we waited until Dad was discharged from active duty…and back we came to MN…

The hard part for all the men who came back was becoming civilians again…leaving all of the war behind and facing normal life again was difficult…and for all the people who came back, each one had a story…I think all of them fought the battle to be normal again…some for the rest of their lives…I think my Dad did…

I knew not only my Dad…but many men who served in the war…all my uncles…neighbors and men I worked with…one who fought with Patton across Europe, others in the infantry and a many others, serving in various places…all had their stories of how difficult it was…and how difficult it was to come back to normal life at home…

But you know…that generation was a great generation…I always told my Dad…that he was a part of the golden years of this country…lots of troubles, lots of problems…but we have lots them today…it’s what they did with those problems…the discoveries made and building this country into the greatest nation on earth…American exceptionalism…

So many of them gone…so many I forgot to thank, a missed opportunity…we stand on their shoulders today…

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Responses

  1. You are right, we declared war on December 8 against Japan and on December 11 against Germany.

    Being a member of the next generation (the one after you), I have similar experiences. However, mine are with the Vietnam Veterans. I look back at my first three employers and they were all Vietnam Vets and they to suffered from trying to live putting the war behind them. All me who go to war sacrifice, those of us who have never been will never truly understand. But we can be grateful.

  2. Jim,

    You are right about your dad not talking about the war…I actually think that there was a lot of vets that did not. I never really asked him about it, because I knew of all the deaths, destruction and mayhem that he must of saw or heard of. I think that just being in a war itself is hard on the mind…no war is nice…all wars are brutal. I do not think that the vets administration were much help after that war in helping the vets that came home

    I always think of grandpa and Har every time I watch my favorite WW11 non-action movie. I’m sure that you have seen it…it’s called “The best years of our lives” (I love the title). By watching it, I understand more on what he probably went thru right after the war…maybe years after.


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