Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Is Anybody Watching?

I have been glued to my TV set for the last three nights watching (and knitting while I watch) The War by Ken Burns on PBS. I hope that some of the younger generation is watching the series because it goes a long way to explaining where we are now in this country. The industrialization that is causing today's global warming began in full earnest during the war. The industrialization of farming practices that is threatening our health started soon after. But most importantly, can anyone not see why there was a baby boom after four years of the horror that was WWII? I get really upset when newspaper articles or cartoons (last week's Prickly City story line, for example) blame the Baby Boomers for the Social Security crunch that is about to occur. They (we?) didn't ask to be born, nor did they ask to be indulged in by parents who had seen enough of death and destruction. (I am either a Baby Boomer or not depending on whose dating you use. I was born late in 1945. As a result, I have been "on the cusp" my entire life.)
The documentary has brought back a lot of memories for me even though I wasn't born until after the war was over. My father did not fight in the war because he was deaf in one ear and so was classified 4F. He did volunteer to be an air-raid warden in Washington, D.C. which is where my parents were living at the time. The war was something that the grownups thought about a lot, but didn't want to talk about. Most of what I knew about the war until now came from watching all the war-related movies when they were re-run on TV in the 60s. Neither my high school American History class or even my college History of Western Civilization class got as far as WWII or went into it in any depth.

One of my uncles did fight, though, and was one of the first American servicemen to enter Dachau, the oldest Nazi concentration camp, after the camp had been liberated in late April of 1945. It was his job to round up any SS men that might still be there. For two months he screened inmates to find out what country they came from, how they got to the camp, and help them return home. His team found hundreds of Nazis and SS members who surrendered without resistance. Some donned prison clothing to try to hide with the inmates but they would be found out by the prisoners and beaten. When he returned home himself, my uncle had terrible nightmares for a long time that were so bad my aunt was afraid of being strangled by him in the middle of the night. Even though he fought in Europe, he would never buy anything made in Japan for the rest of his life.

In a very unlikely place out in the California desert, is the General Patton Memorial Museum. It is located at the Chiriaco Summit exit off of I-10 between Los Angeles and Phoenix. A lot of people who drive that route frequently don't even realize it is there. But my husband and I stopped there several times on our way to or from visiting our son in Phoenix. Most of the time, we just viewed the many tanks that are parked in a lot beside the museum. But one trip we had enough time to go inside and look around. Imagine my surprise when I found a three-ring notebook lying on a table that turned out to be a photocopy of the report of the first soldiers to enter Dachau, my uncle's corps.

1 comment:

  1. We have been there once. It was filled with so much information.