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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Generational opinions change

Thursday, January 28, 2010

When I was a student at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C., war was declared. (Not the Civil War, but World War II). Student life changed quickly. All extra curricular activities were held immediately after school since no lights could show after dark. The football games began shortly before the 3:00 p.m. school day ended and the last quarter was played in dimming light.

Cars were not used for recreational activities, so all dating and family outings were done on the bus or streetcars unless you could walk.

But one of the biggest changes was that the boys in our class knew they were destined for the military as soon as they graduated. For some that meant that they studied harder in order to get preferred treatment in branches of service. Some adopted a negative attitude toward studying.

The girls became active in defense activities. I wore an armband that designated me as the Civil Defense Monitor for the third floor, east hall in case of air raids. It was my duty to see that everyone left each of the rooms in that hall and went down to a basement shelter. Fortunately there were no attacks, but many drills.

Our homes were equipped with black-out curtains in any room that needed to have lights on after dark. For that reason we avoided eating in the dining room, or using the sun porch, and used as few rooms as possible.

Nearing the end of my college days I married a soldier who wore his uniform at the ceremony. When I graduated we lived in the servant's quarters above the apartment of Lester's commanding officer at Fort Riley, Kan. Our duty was to care for the officer's children in exchange for the apartment.

After the war was over I felt I had had enough of uniforms and military life. I did not become a hippie, but I did appreciate some of their ideas. Peaceful things were my ideals. This was heightened when our oldest son was drafted during the Vietnam War. I wanted to be finished with such military things after he came home safely.

But time marches on. This year our great-granddaughter chose to enroll in ROTC here at Nevada. We were disappointed. We wanted her to continue her art classes.

We have attended two of the ROTC drill meets and I will have to say that my opinion is changing. Nowhere have I encountered as many polite and attractive young people who are actually competing with each other, but who maintain friendly and courteous manners at all times. They cheer for their own teams, but applaud every presentation from each school. They opened doors for the visitors, gave directions and even escorted us to various places.

At the meet last Saturday in Nevada, the Nevada cadets won first place overall and many of the various events during the day also earned a first place for Nevada. Our debate teams have won high honors in the past. All athletic events perform well for our school. Musical groups receive a lot of publicity and well-deserved acclaim. But until this year I did not know how entertaining it was to watch the trained skills and abilities of the Nevada ROTC Drill Teams.

I value those young people in their spotless uniforms. I just hope there is no war waiting for them when they graduate.

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus