Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “WWII”

The Arrogance of Immaturity

A young man was shot and killed as he broke into a store after hours when the owner was there because he feared looting during a night of protesting/rioting.  The next day, 600 students at a high school walked out.  You are probably assuming that the dead burglar was a student at the school.  He was not. None of those who walked out told me that they knew him, yet walking out seemed to them to be somehow a noble tribute to a sad end, ignoring the criminal endeavor.

Sounds like the situation in Ferguson last year but it was decades ago (I won’t say how many) at my school.  It was before the Make My Day laws.  It was purported to be about race too.  Even then, I did not see the connection with race because the more obvious reason for the burglar’s death, however sad, was his attempted burglary.  I am pretty sure the store owner would have shot anyone who broke into his store that night regardless of color.

A few years later, when I was in college, student organizers promoted a Student Bill of Rights.  I only remember one “right” that was part of a package of rights needed by us oppressed students.  That was the right to have girls visit the boys dorm without the rule at the time which required the dorm room door remain open.  It was a rule that was difficult to enforce because if a door was closed, how would a passerby know it contained a female visitor?  Oh, I seem to recall the girls had to sign in.  It was very oppressive to our right to privacy while entertaining in the location of our beds.  I was 18.  Before attending college, when I lived at home with my parents, as you might imagine, I could bring girls to my room in the attic whenever I wanted without checking in any of the long line of girls who desired to visit me behind closed doors.  If you buy that, I have ocean front property in Arizona.  Not.

Nevertheless, I was persuaded by the campus leaders to be outraged that the college would try to play the role of my repressive parents. “In loco parentis” it was called.  That was something up with which we could not put.   We demonstrated as an orderly mob at the home of the college president.  He did not resign.  He did not even come out to greet us.  Our demands were discussed later but never granted.  I did not complain to my parents, who were 300 miles away, about the unreasonable dorm rules.  I did not expect them to understand.  They would not understand why I and the other college protesters were offended by rules that implied we were not yet adults.

Several years later, the guy who was student body president and led the demonstrations for the Student Bill of Rights, was shot and killed at an armed standoff outside some textile factory fighting for the rights of workers.  I do not know enough about the cause to judge its righteousness, but I do not believe armed conflict was the solution for the textile workers.  Knowing the fellow who died leading the “movement,”  I realize that he was following his long-felt need to rouse the oppressed.  On one hand it is admirable.  On the other, it was tragic because he died unnecessarily due to his choice.

The students at the University of Missouri were successful in recently forcing the resignation of the university president.  I do not understand why that was necessary.  I am not smart enough to grasp why the university president is responsible for all offensive language on and off campus, nor was he obligated to endorse the Ferguson riots.  I certainly am not smart enough to follow the logic of the Yale students in their concerns about Halloween costumes at fraternity parties.  I have, I suppose, become less sensitive over the years.

When my father was 18-22, he was in the Army, in England, France and Belgium during WWII.  He had better things to do than stand up for a Student Bill of Rights concerning dorm rules.  He was defending the actual Bill of Rights, the ones written by our American forefathers.  The contrast between him and the college students fighting for (ironically) rules about Halloween costumes (seems anti-free speech), is immense.  IMMENSE!!!

I have heard or read that college extends adolescence.  I was certainly less mature during college than was my father at the same age.  Now I view this crop of college student protesters as ultra-demanding about things their college need not provide.  My own cause, those many years ago, was vastly more important — the right to bring girls to one’s dorm room!

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Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day

flags1Today we remember the people who died serving our country.  We also remember those who served our country and died.  We also remember loved ones who have died, whether or not they served in the military.

My father was an Army veteran, who served in World War II.  When he was merely eighteen, a troop ship transported him across the Atlantic Ocean to England.  He later crossed the English Channel to France.  One of his cousins died on a beach in Normandy on D-Day, as described in The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan.  Those were brave young men who arrived in France to push back the Nazis.  Dad was in France and Belgium until the surrender of Germany and then was in California, preparing to be sent to the Pacific, when Japan surrendered.  He liked to say that they heard he was coming and gave up.

My father did not die in the war or I would not be here to tell you about him.  When he died in 2003, the military gave him a 21 gun salute, which choked me up.  My mother has the flag that was given to her as part of the ceremony.

On Friday, I attended the funeral of my Russian friend, Slava.  At his funeral, one of the speakers told of how Slava was five years old when he was injured by bombing of Russia in 1942, before America was in the war.  Slava came to the United States with his wife and child after he was a respected physicist in Russia.  He came here for freedom.

Both men loved America.  I miss them both.  I remember them both as honorable men such as countless others whom we honor on this day.

“It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.” A.Lincoln

In Remembrance

Today is my father’s birthday.  He was born in 1924.  In a previous post, Something for Dad, I mentioned that he epitomized The Greatest Generation that Tom Brokaw wrote about.  I also proudly quoted the therapist who told me, “They don’t make guys like that anymore.”  They don’t.

Dad was born at home, in a house by the park in Craig, Nebraska, the youngest of four.  He had one brother and two sisters.  In his family, he was called Johnny.  Craig was a very small town, maybe 300 people.  Johnny’s graduating class was very small, less than 20 as I recall.  He graduated at age 16 because they did not have kindergarten.

He went to college for one year, then worked for the Union Pacific Railroad for a few months until he was old enough to join the Army in WWII.  In 1945, at age 21, he had served in England when it was being bombed, then France after D Day, and Belgium for Battle of the Bulge.  After Germany surrendered that year, he was in California on his way to the Pacific theatre when Japan surrendered, so he got to go home instead.

He went to college at Omaha University on the G.I. Bill.  He graduated in 2  years.  He went to school more than full-time, worked part-time, and even fit in varsity tennis and lettered.  He met my mother at O.U. and they married in March 1948, before he turned 24. 

The yearbook in 1948 included the goals of each senior.  Most wrote about career plans.  Johnny wrote something about being a good husband and father.  He fulfilled both.  Actually, he exceeded his goals.  He was great, not just good.  He was the best.

His first job out of college he stuck with for 35 years.  He worked at a bank, starting as a teller and rising to V.P. and Trust Officer.

He was married to my mother for the rest of his life, from 1948 until 2003.  They got to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Without describing the many events during those many years, I ask you to use your imagination.  What you imagine about a devoted family man is likely true of my Dad.

It was a privilege to be his son.  

Happy Birthday, Dad!  I love you — always!

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