WWII struggles need to be shared | Letters | April 16
April 15, 2010 · 5:11 PM
My father was one of the farm boys Mr. Olsen referenced in his April 9 letter. On the day my dad graduated from college his draft notice was delivered to his student mailbox. He and about 12 million Americans were drafted to go to war.
He fought in Africa, Sicily, Normandy and Germany. He participated in three amphibious landings. He earned, among other medals, two Purple Hearts and a Presidential Unit Citation.
My father did not talk about the war much when I was growing up. He, like many others, were silent about their experiences. So what I know about my father’s participation has been pieced together from history books. I only have small bits of his personal remembrances.
It was a war so immense it is hard to fathom its scope. In order to learn from history, we must hear the stories of those who lived it. Each person who lived during WWII has a story to tell. Whether they were of the 16 million Americans who served, or those who stayed behind, each has a unique view. The Russians who survived the siege of Leningrad, the British who lived through the bombing, the survivors of the Holocaust, the heroes of the French Resistance, the American women who worked in the Naval yards, all have compelling stories.
This is how history gets remembered and is passed down. So, yes, we need to hear the narratives of the 2.5 millions African Americans who served in the armed forces, and the stories of the German Americans who were relocated to camps. We need to hear the stories of the enlisted Americans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the narratives of the Japanese Americans who were forced out of their homes and sent to internment camps.
And we especially need to know about the Japanese American farm boys from Bainbridge Island who enlisted despite the humiliating conditions their families were forced into.
This is a part of our history and we need to honor it. So bring on the stories, books, documentaries, the memorials walls, the museums and the remembrances. Because the stories of WWII are narratives of the human condition.
Rockaway Beach Road