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Saturday, Apr. 18, 2015

Memories about World War II

Thursday, June 11, 2009

With the recent observances of the anniversary of D-Day, the patriotic musical program at the Fox Theater last week, and unfortunately reading the obituaries of recent deaths of some of our World War II veterans, I have been flooded with thoughts about that time in history.

At the musical program I mentioned to a much younger person who was sitting in front of me that I would like to have them put on a program of songs from that war. Maybe it was because I was a teenager and young adult during those years, but I feel that there were many great songs we could all enjoy. Many of them had to do with loneliness or waiting for someone special, but that can speak to us at any time. However there were also lively, fun songs that showed the spirit of the times.

To my surprise the young man agreed and even came up with some of the words to one of the songs, "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!"

At my most recent Elderhostel I was playing Scrabble with one of the other instructors and a participant of the Elderhostel. My instructor friend who was raised near London was telling of her memories of her grandfather who entertained the children in the air raid shelter night after night. He taught them games and told them stories that she still loves. She mentioned that it really was a pleasant experience for her because she was too young to realize the danger and she loved spending the time with her grandfather.

The other lady listened in silence for a minute and then said, "I was born in a German bunker, and my brother and I didn't know anything else because when we were born it was when the RAF was bombing Germany." The experiences of the English family preceded those of the German one, but both of these well-educated, pleasant women had spent their early years imprisoned by the circumstances of the war with their families who were enemies of each other.

As the conversation continued between these two new friends they discovered many similarities in their early life, but neither ever felt terror because they shared it with their families.

There was nothing but respect and interest between these two, and I, whose experiences of being under attack were limited to having black out curtains on our windows at night and living in a brown-out in Washington, D.C., for several years, could only marvel in wonder at how quickly friendships can be formed between former enemies.

Remembering this conversation made me again think of the songs of that era. The ones which have remained well known don't vilify the enemies. Instead they emphasize the bravery of our own soldiers, and the love we share for our own country.

That was one of the delights in last week's Community Choirs' program. Their songs included love and admiration for different parts of our country along with the more patriotic themes. We heard everything from a hoedown to the national anthem and that variety certainly spells out what our country is all about.

As we go into Bushwhacker Days this weekend we will relive some of our local history while we realize that families of former enemies today live happily side-by-side in Vernon County.

It makes me wonder why it always has to get violent before the friendships can be formed later.

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus