This is Veteran’s Day in the United States and I cannot help remembering how I grew up. It was a time of intense national purpose — after a couple of years when we had been in deadly danger of losing World War II.
There was a military draft which hit families everywhere, even in the tiny hamlet (70 people, not counting the cemetery) of Tylerville, New York. Our farm was a few miles away from the village where we went to church and grange. Several miles further on was Copenhagen, with perhaps 500 resident citizens, and Copenhagen Central School.
By 1943, lots of kids in this northern-Appalachian territory were harvesting milkweed pods, in season, lugging bags of the precious material on the bus to school. Milkweed was turned into kapok for lining cold-weather jackets and other materiel vitally important to the war.
Kids bought US savings stamps to be turned into bonds; in their turn, the bonds later became money returned to us. In the meantime it meant money beyond the gazillions that the federal government could muster to support a popular movement aiming to preserve and enlarge freedom in our country and in the world.
Radio newscasts, theatre newsreels and publications kept us informed, though in a different, more distant way than letters from families serving in the European and Asian theaters.
I was born in 1932 so I clearly remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor, VE and VJ Days, and the shocking death of the only US President I had ever known in my whole life — Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whom I had not remembered as our governor.
Gasoline and many foodstuffs were rationed pretty strictly. I don’t remember a lot of complaining about all that; it was understood that this was a national effort. What I now realize is how very little we citizens seem to be in the present wars which definitely do not have grand public support, according to the polls.
Times change, not always for the better. I remember a very hard time that was very good. — Bob Cramer, Windsor, California.