Do you (or DID you) have relatives who served in World War II? If so, some parallels that may be worthy of consideration.greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
I have ceased to regularly post to this forum for a number of reasons, including the fact that it has become something quite different than it was six months ago.
Having said that, I will elaborate on the title of this post.
I am the offspring of a mother and father who served the American military during and shortly after World War II.
Because of this, I grew up hearing about stories of their hardships.
I also grew up hearing the stories of people who pulled together in hard times and were strengthened by the experience. This is not to say they LIKED the experience, only that they were strengthened by it. If they survived, they passed these lessons of "pulling together" to their children.
Being a member of that category, somehow I believe that--given ANY type of worst case scenario--good people will pull together and effectively outnumber anyone who doesn't fit that description, and all will become wiser in the process.
In short, with all of our worries about Y2k, I think it might be helpful to consider the way challenges were successfully met by previous generations.
Am I wrong?
-- FM (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 11, 1999
FM, you are right. Both my parents survived WWI, the Depression, and served (as older adults) in the CAP and Army during WWII. People did rally. HOWEVER, in WWII they had a clear enemy, over there, and the enemy wasn't potentially his nextdoor neighbor. Also, maybe it's just romanticizing, but it seems to me that "back then" the population was more homogeneous, had been living in one community and knew and trusted their neighbors, and, generally, people trusted their governments/institutions to at least not screw them. The citizens mind-set was different, looking to each other rather than to government to provide. People just seemed more "decent" or "moral" as my parents would say. What do you think? By the way, my parents are in the late 80's and they get it on y2k (especially the bank run part and rationing part).
-- DG (email@example.com), December 12, 1999.
My grandfather was an engineer working on how to refine (centrifugation and filtration steps?) U-235 from U-238-rich ore for the Manhattan project. He is not alive now, but my grandmother tells me he was quite aware of the destructive potential of the Bomb before most anyone had any clue that it was being developed. She says that he would awake in the middle of the night screaming from the ghastliest of nightmares. My other grandfather sang Western campfire songs with the Sons of the Pioneers. I clearly do not have a conventional repertoire of ancestral war stories to tell my progeny.
-- nowhereman (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 12, 1999.
FM, I hope you're right. It seems the cities might be less that way. So much depends on what happens where, for how long, and how fast.
A total unknown at this point. Isn't that unbelievable? December 11, 1999, and we have NO IDEA how this will really come down.
Sort of like the whole Universe, because if you stop and think about it, no one KNOWS where the physical Universe came from. Everyone has their beliefs (yes, even scientists can't get back to "second ZERO" to see where it all began) as to where it's from, but no one KNOWS.
Sorry, just taking a pause.
-- Gregg (email@example.com), December 12, 1999.
Timely post, FM. Here's my take.
I grew up in the Depression, was in the Field Artillery in WWII. The bottomline for me is: my generation has already experienced TEOTWAWKI -- the way Americans interrelated before WWII, during WWII, and for a short while after WWII -- is vastly different than today, and the gap is growing daily. Can I prove it? Can you prove I'm wrong? The answer is, neither, unless you've experienced the difference personally.
The Sons of The Pioneers were one of my favorite groups I tried to emulate in my (rather amateur) performing days, along with Ernie Tubbs, Bob Wills, and Tex Ritter. Today the young folks call Shania Twain's twittering: 'country' music. I think it's a good metaphor for the contrast in yesterday and today, and there's nothing better to remind me of the difference than Tex's "We Live In Two Different Worlds, Dear".
Bill -- staring at the bubbles in his beer, drowning in nostalgic anachronisms
-- William J. Schenker, MD (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 12, 1999.
No, you're not wrong. And you have to pull together, cause if you don't pull together then you're going to be pulled apart. And I'm really not trying to be funny. I think that the people with the best shot of making it are families that ReFuse to be pulled apart.
Boy, could I tell you stories - of just Two people. And there were so many others, all with similar, Terrible stories. I don't even like to Think about it now. But this had to do with the war. WWII.
I personally don't want to GO through a war. I can handle a depression, and living off the land. But I'm such a wimp. And because of this I have the greatest admiration for people in the military - the people who put their Lives on the line for US. I'm blown away by that. Probably because Jesus said that the Greatest Love is for Someone to lay down his life for someone Else. THE greatest love. That's heavy-duty. One of my favorite people is Dave Roever.(a Viet-Nam vet). Actually the first person I ever dated ended up killed in VietNam. (Now I sound like I'm whining into my beer. not that I drink..but God Bless You Gary T.)
But like a poster said, times have changed and gotten a little - or a lot - weird. Even since VietNam.
Anyhow. Don't mean to bore you! (Makes me think of "TIME" by Pink Floyd: "And then one day you find...ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run. You missed the starting gun...)
-- Doorbaby (tomG@h.com), December 12, 1999.
Bill - I SWEAR I didn't see your "beer" remark until after I posted and went back to read the other posts! Spooky.
-- Doorbaby (tomG@h.com), December 12, 1999.
From what my mother has said, the nation rallied together and contributed to the cause. There were drives to collect rubber tires, metals, and other materials. Gasoline was rationed, so car pooling was prevalent. People bought bonds till it hurt, and one was lucky to find a decent slab of meat.
She said that it was a hellish time, but was amazed at how the populace in general worked together for a common cause...it was as if an alarm sounded and the people responded without question, as if they knew what had to be done.
However, she has her doubts if we as a nation can do it again. "The nation has changed so much, and the values and conditions now are much different than what existed back then. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, she claims that a lot of able-bodied men practically ran into the streets to enlist; stigmas were attached to those who waited to be drafted, as well as those who were rejected for health reasons.
She was close to obtaining her nursing degree, but dropped out and became a WAC at one of the bases in CA, near Fresno if memory serves me correctly. Lots of sacrifices made, before, during, and after the war...people complained, but not too much, for there was too much to be done, too much at stake, too much to lose.
Other observations based on her stories:
When my father returned, he had lost so much weight that he was hard to recognize until he flashed a smile at her. Apparently, he hated the rations, which consisted of corned beef hash, spam, and powdered stuff day afer day after day.
Meat was scarce, so my mother only had spam to work with. According to her, he got livid...got up from the table, pointed at the dish, and said "I AM NEVER, I REPEAT, >>>>NEVER<<<< GOING TO EAT THAT [CENSORED] EVER AGAIN...I WOULD RATHER EAT HORSE!!!!"
When she managed to actually get some horse steak and barbequed it, it was if he had won the lotto. He had constant cravings for fresh fruit and vegetables...couldn't get enough fresh milk to satisfy as well.
My father told me some interesting tales as well, but this is getting rather lengthy. In essence, the gyst of his message was "I hope you never have to experience what I had to endure. And if you do, remember that there's strength in numbers. Choose your friends wisely, never take anything for granted."
-- Tim (email@example.com), December 12, 1999.
I love hearing these WWII stories! My grandmother drove a jeep for the airforce in WWII. The only thing I remember her mentioning about those days was in response to my asking why there was a big old nail stickin outta the wall by the toilet. She explained that was a reminder to count her blessings, because during the depression she would go to grocers and beg for the paper that wrapped the oranges. She would then stick these square papers on the nail so the family could enjoy the luxury of having them for toilet paper.
Will we pull together today? No way in H_LL, which may in fact be right around the corner. I loved the other post of the sherrif deputizing his town, and having like 255 or 285? of these deputies packing. That town will pull together. That will be the exception, not the rule.
Explanation: I've interviewed hundreds of criminals, when I worked at John's Hopkins, when I worked in a maximum security jail, and in my present position. The "old timers", meaning criminals in their mid 30's or more, are terrified of today's criminal's. They complain of there no longer being any "code on the streets", everyone is out for themselves, and would shoot you for $5,.... Now when persons under research protocol who satisfy the psychiatric criteria for antisocial personality disorder (layterm: sociopaths and psychopaths) tell you with disgust that THEY are SCARED and DISGUSTED with the ruthless violence, selfishness, and entitlement of our youth, then boys and girls things are quite serious.
-- Hokie (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 12, 1999.
Don't use the coward logic of doomer thinking to make you believe that people do not pull together in times of hardship. ALL hardship is experienced locally. So to those who say "But Y2K is global, so it is different that a hurricane!", tell that that to those who have experienced it. Tell that to the people in New Zealand who went without power for seven weeks. The fact is, other that a remote few, most of society instinctively knows that it is in their best interest to work together. In fact, only in the most primative of species, is this not an instinctive response to crisis. Regardless of how severe the effects of Y2K are, people will rise to the challenge in very noble ways. We have proven that time and time and time again. So ignore the warnings of the ignorant few. Ignore those that would have you dismiss the history you have experienced of human relations and interaction, and substitute it with their view that humans, when faced with crisis, respond by regressing, intellectually, to that of a single celled organism. They are only exposing the limits and weaknesses of their own minds. Do not be worried by them. Natural selection will take care of them. Millions of years of evolution has proved that.
-- for real (email@example.com), December 12, 1999.
We are in this mess BECAUSE of what our parents went through. My parents grew up during the Depression and went straight from there into WW II. My dad served in the Navy, never got shot at, just froze in the Alutians. My mom worked in a shipyard welding and helped build 2 battleships.
What happened. "Ain't gonna study war no more." When the war ended, everyone came home and swore "Our children will NOT have to go through what we went through". They got education on GI bill and bought houses with GI loans and started cranking out kids.
We got weak. We changed the name of the WAR Department to the Defense Department. Any sports person will tell you defense does not win games. You have to hit/carry/shoot the ball to score points and win. We hid behind our Nuclear umbrella. We could not match the other nations of the world ideology for ideology(see the Korean War Brain Washing stories). We could not match other nations men with guns with our men with guns. We never went to war again. We went on "peace keeping mission, police actions, show of force, humanitarian aid, etc."
Our nations motto used to be "Out of Many, One". We are now so divided it takes a score card and a multi-language program to tell who is who. In California you can get your Drivers License Handbook in over 20 languages.
As long as pizza delivers, cable is on, your Visa card works and news is something that happens to someone else, we are fat dumb and happy?
When I talk to people, I ask " How fast can you shift gears?" There is no way we can make it given the dumbing down and moral decay of our current Americans
-- woody (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 12, 1999.
Woody, we understand that you are not mentally capable of dealing with hardship. We will help you. Fear not.
-- for real (email@example.com), December 12, 1999.
Woody is absolutely correct....
Look at the social crowds. They haven't got a clue. Too busy primping.
Look at the midle management. Not a clue. Too busy working.
Look at the sports followers. not a clue. Too busy cheering.
Look at the drinking working Joe 6 paks. Not a clue. Too busy...
Look at the working single mothers. Not a clue.
Look at the poor. Got a clue, but no way to prep.
College students?? Duh!
Better hope for a bump or this house of cards is gonna fall.
-- Jimmy Gunner (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 12, 1999.
I think you are hopeing for alot here. Bill and Woody are pretty close the mark. Collectivly, the people of the country have lost their ties with the old days.
-- FLAME AWAY (BLehman202@aol.com), December 12, 1999.
My father was an Infantry Lieutenant stationed in Hawaii when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Parents wee just married and on their Honeymoon. Dads infantry company consisted of 13 men with rifles and a light machine gun. They were to defend a stretch of beach front several miles long. Japan could have walked in and taken the place with probably less than a division.
I think we are, maybe, a little better off today, but I don't know for sure. As long as the American is armed we have a chance. If the commies are successfull at disarming us using the "Usefull idiots", and the plantsin our country, then we will have to count on something else. Got Rocks?
-- Mark Hillyard (email@example.com), December 12, 1999.
I was in WW2 - USN Pacific Fleet - on a destroyer. My father was a four striper on Bull Halsey's staff. I can state catigorically that this generation of soft, hedonistic egocentrics would be unrecognizable to their forefathers as Americans.
-- WW2 Vet (still firstname.lastname@example.org), December 12, 1999.
To the above add: infantile
-- WW2 Vet (still email@example.com), December 12, 1999.
Opps to you re: "Look at the working single mothers. Not a clue."
I am one of those single working moms and in fact with no child support. I am here to say I have read over 300 hours of info and spent even more than that in preparing; many nights I have been up to 2 or 3 am preparing sleep a bit then go to work and work all day come home and start all over. The general population does not seem to want to admit it but we are actually WARRIOR women who fight the battle of survival of our familes each and every day. Don't ever underestimate the value, stamina, or resolve of a single Mom we are much more than you think. Single Moms have to be leader and worker in their home so we know how to stay informed and get results trust me we do.
In fact right now I am on the way out the door to cut firewood so we can have wood for heat this week. It is rainy and cold, my work gloves are worn through from hauling water and gardening from this summer, yes we know how to work and survive WARRIOR women of family survival we are.
-- Obo (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 12, 1999.
I agree with Woody. I live in a county in California that is 33% hispanic plus several other immigrant groups. They don't know the "American Way" and think of their own cultural backgrounds. I particularly fear the hispanic group since they see Y2k as an opportunity to take back the land which was once Mexican.
I too have parents and parents-in-law who went through the depression and WWII. They GI and give the best advice about how to deal with the coming hard times.
-- Evelyn (email@example.com), December 12, 1999.
Dr. Schenker. While Shania may "twitter", would you rather look at her or Ernie Tubbs?
-- smfdoc (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 12, 1999.
I'd like to exchange some comments with you privately. Please contact me at the email provided. Put WW2 Vet in the subject line as I generally delete emails that I don't recognize.
-- Bob Benson (email@example.com), December 12, 1999.
My father was attached to a mechanized unit in Italy and later France during WWII. He wasn't on the front lines, but over and over saw the ravages and destruction of war. He also grew up on the farm in central Nebraska during the depression. All the brothers(4) had to leave the farm and look for work to keep the folks from losing the homestead.
My father has been gone for over 10 years now, and only 1 invalid sister remains. I wish they were still around...even just to glean from the years of their experience.
My generation is woefully unprepared for what may lie ahead.
-- TM (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 12, 1999.
It does seem like the last few generations that grew up in the 70's and 80's (who did not serve in Vietnam) are spoiled. We do however, have some indications of how they react in catastrophes by remembering news footage of people pulling together. I recall people building dikes during the Mississippi floods. Rescuing trapped victims in rubble and putting out fires in the Loma Prieta Earthquake.
No matter the outcome of Y2k, I'm convinced we will always pull together. The good will always vastly outnumber the bad.
-- gary (email@example.com), December 12, 1999.
I'm reminded of one thing my Dad passed on to me from his service in the Pacific (81st Infantry Div). After taking part in invading and occupying Enewietak, Kwajelien, Truk, Yap, Paleau, Leyte, Okinawa and then occupation duty in the Japanese mainland, he passed on to me that the thing he hated worst of all about it was: eating almost nothing but RICE.
I'm afraid that I and many of us may get to share that sympathy.
-- Wildweasel (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 12, 1999.
The average person lived on the farm and was virtually det free at the time. Today, most people work for a company of some kind, and most companies are not debt free. If the economy tanks for 2 months, the company I work for will not exist. Payrool will not be covered without cash entering the building. People can pull together, ut without cash flow, it all comes down. This is a totally different world than back then. How long could you volunteer to do your present jo without pay?
-- tree (email@example.com), December 12, 1999.
If the 20-somethings are so horrible, then why didn't all you oldies abort us when you had the chance? You know, nip this problem of our existence in the bud! Goodness knows you TRIED, but didn't quite finish the job. I sense regret on your part.
If you have problems with us, may I remind you that we are shouldering a bigger tax and social security tax burden than any other generation (at comparative age) in history. Will we be getting anything out of Social Security? No, and I believe aliens will land on the UN building before we see any of it our hands. Do we volunteer more than our agemates did in different eras? Yes, and we are all collectively labeled a bunch of losers and slackers. Do we get to inherit a great manufacturing job with only a high school education and provide for a one-income household? Dream on! Those days are gone forever.
All I gotta say is that some people in history--for no other reason than their place in the cycle of generations--get to be the heroes. Some people get to be the preachers and prophets. Some people get to come of age when all is nice and stable. Not us. We are the custodians of the world, working the graveyard shift, destined to simply clean up after the biggest mess in history falls on our feet. You all will be dead and gone by the time it's all straightened out, but we will most certainly get the blame for the problem and none of the credit for solving it. Again, you should have aborted us, finished the job.
-- nokidding (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 12, 1999.
1) The problem is NOT the 20-somethings, the Gen-X-ers. It IS the 30- 45 or so's, who did NOT do the SE Asia thing.
2) It IS the Yuppies who keep score by the marque on the car, on the furniture; the address, and the house sq footage.
3) I am fairly ashamed of my age-mates who have NOT experienced difficulties and hardships.
Oh, and BTW, my dad was a WW II service person. No, i don't have horror stories from him as he lived at home, once he finally got to the end of the funny Army road, and spent his time "exercising the nurses". And playing golf with the Base and visiting brass, and going up and down in rank from E5 to E6 so many times he just kept 2 sets of shirts.
AND he also, just happened to be the NCO in charge of the rehab of the guys who came back from Bataan, and Coregidor.
Nope, i don't got no war stories. Nothing about the difficulties, the hardships, stuff like that. Just the stories about how hard it is to rehab someone who gets adhesions and you trick him into breaking them on his own so you don't have to do it for him, and the ones about the catatonic responses to stress.........
Whose Uncle ALSO happened to go through So. Africa, and another uncle happened to be one of the first into Buchenwald ( I think) with 8th AAF Intel.
-- Chuck, a night driver (email@example.com), December 12, 1999.
Peace be with you. All of you. (The young ones, the oldies, etc.)
This is a really good thread. I hope more of you will keep it going in the days ahead.
Thank you for all of your responses. I too, love these World War II stories, because I heartily agree with Tom Brokaw in his assessment that the people who made so many sacrifices for others during that terrible time of history, certainly number among the greatest generations of our 20th century.
To add to the stories here, it may be of no small coincidence that I had a conversation this evening with one of the most honorable people I have ever known. Unexpectedly, the conversation ended with a short discussion about Y2K.
This individual was, by birth in 1930, Czechoslovakian royalty. His family fled to England when he was a child during World War II. There, they suffered discrimination because of their Germanic accents.
After the war, they returned to Czechoslovakia, and he made a decision to become a priest. However, in 1949, Communism engulfed his country, claiming not only the castle which had been his familys home for over five hundred years, but also claiming the fate of his sisters who were sent to a military brothel in Russia, from which they never returned. He and the remaining members of his family were imprisoned for two years.
When he was finally released from prison, he emigrated to England as a priest, learned about the concept of hospice, and during the last two decades, has become a pioneer in the hospice movement in America. Many, many souls have been comforted by his presence and by his efforts during their last days, as evidenced by his appearance in a lengthy NBC News Special Segment many years ago. I was instrumental in bringing the story of his work in hospice to the networks attention, but thats another story.
On to the interesting conclusion of our conversation.
As we were about to say Good night tonight, I asked him a simple question, and was more than a bit surprised at his answer, since nothing about Y2K had been discussed with him prior to my question. My question: What will you be doing on New Years Eve?
Answer: Nothing special. Ill be hunkered down with my kerosene heater and my bottles of water in case things go wrong because of those bloody computers you love so much.
My question: Why? Most of the public opinion polls show that people are not that worried.
Answer: Ive been through two revolutions and a war, and thats enough to teach you that the masses dont care. They never do. They only care about their own little refrigerators, or whatever. The only people who care are those who educated and interested in politics and societal issues in general. Nothing changes.
Well, I dont quite know what to make of this. Perhaps its up to historians to decide.
Regardless, Gods blessings to all of you during the holidays, and especially after "Magic Midnight."
P.S. Please be kind to one another in your ongoing responses to this thread. Perhaps we can all learn something good from your words.
-- FM (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 13, 1999.
Dear FM, I too, am an off spring (old spring, bong!) of a WWII Veteran, Prisoner of War. My Father spent (I think), six months as a prisoner of the Germans, before they were liberated by the Russians. He had almost nothing to say about the experience, except to say they would eat anything that moved (picture bugs, etc.) My Mother was, mean while back on the farm, and according to her youthful memory, they did not suffer much because they grew crops/livestock that kept them fed. Nothing new, they had always done it. They had ration cards, but in a small place, to walk three-four miles was nothing. Just to lend a snippet of history.
-- Me Full of Comfort (Lineagefull@grit.com), December 13, 1999.
My short story is about my uncle, a solder in Germany during WWII.
I did not know him very well until I was in my forties and he in is sixties. He died last year at age 75. He worked as a cowboy on big ranches in New Mexico until about ten years ago. Then moved in next to me and my wife in a different part of the country, still very rural. He showed me how to do a lot of things. He did not talk much but on rare occasions we would trade war stories.
WWII soldiers were much more capable of killing someone without being bothered emotionally than VietNam vets. Without a doubt, if two groups of soldiers (equally armed) one being South Koreans and the other Americans (Viet Nam era) were to clash, I would bet on the SKs because they, the south koreans, had not been feed this 'lets be goody-goody be fair crap' that so many kids in this country have been brought up on.
How does this story and my opinion relate to you and y2k ? There is a good chance in the next year or two, that you goody- goodies out there will need to confront the no-goods about who eats and drinks first. Talk, good intentions, high moral values and looks will not decide it. Physical force will.
Since our society gets its values and cooperation from tv, I bet on the no-goods. Too bad but that is how the real world works.
Go ahead and dis-agree, neither I or the no-goods care.
-- 19E40 (Viet@Nam67-68.com), December 13, 1999.