It must have been like this back in 1920’s when the Civil War and lessons learned finally slipped from the public consciousness.
We are now 65 years removed from the end of World War II and the same thing is happening. With each passing day we lose another hero and WWII forever fades into the history books.
It struck me yesterday when I read about the death of Dick Winters, 92, the leader of Easy Company during the final year of the WWII and subject of the book Band of Brothers and the eponymous HBO miniseries. What becomes the rallying cry when all the survivors of WWII are gone?
I have always had an interest in WWII perhaps because through my travels over the years I’ve had the opportunity to visit many of the historical sites (I’ve never been to Normandy, but it certainly is on my bucket list). Perhaps it goes deeper than that because for my generation when social crisis hits our country WWII and the lessons learned is always proffered up as the salve to heal the open wound.
Since Sunday past when the country was slammed with the senseless violence perpetrated on Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others there has been an outcry from many that it is time for the country to bury the axes and come together. This happens every time there is a tragic event that causes collective pause in the public consciousness. These tragic events provide a reality check, a taking of the social temperature, but eventually time marches on and people return to their old habits.
The last time this country pulled together for the greater cause was WWII. Everybody sacrificed. Imagine what was going through the mind of the son of a German immigrant fighting against his parent’s homeland because he believed in the future of America.
Times were different then, but is our country still capable of the same feat? One would have thought 9/11 was the rallying point, but even impact and meaning of that attack is non-consensual. In our attempts to ensure America remains the free world’s melting pot have we inadvertently fractured our collective resolve? Hopefully we don’t need another major war to cure it.
Note: Also lost yesterday was Col. William Marsh “Bill Bower, 93, of Boulder, CO., the last surviving pilot of “Doolittle’s Raiders”, who bombed Japan in 1942. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross. In their well documented raid, 16 B-25B bombers took off from the USS Hornet on April 18, 1942 and all but one crashed in China or were ditched at sea. All but 11 of the 80 crew members returned safely to the United States.