He was really there! It really happened!

19 Apr

In my history of WWII class today, we had a man come in to speak to us. He was, by my calculations, 88 years old. 

When he was my age, he was stationed in China during the second World War.

He talked about the day he heard of Pearl Harbor. The reaction in his home town and on his college campus. The day he enlisted and all of his training and the day he set sail for who-knew-where, traveling through the Panama Canal on July 8 as the GIs took bets on whether they were going to Europe or Japan. Well, it ended up being China, eventually, by way of Australia and India.

Once he got there, he worked in an airplane control tower, so he was never actually in any danger. He never fought on the ground, never really saw many Japanese, but he was there.

Just getting the chance to listen to someone who remembered the war so clearly, who shared so many little personal anecdotes that would never be written in any book, was a good reminder that it was real, one of those things that’s easy to forget about when you’re just reading books. In a lot of ways WWII seems as far away as the Revolutionary War, or even Roman times. 

I was also realizing that my own children will probably never have the opportunity to listen to a WWII veteran, because they’re a dying breed. So I feel lucky to get the chance to listen to him, even if he did use the word “Jap” a lot.

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One Response to “He was really there! It really happened!”

  1. ianmulligan08 October 1, 2013 at 4:21 am #

    When you get the chance to listen to a veteran it brings history to life. Their insight and ability to clearly remember the details and how they felt about things in that moment.

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