To the Editor:
It was on the eleventh hour, the eleventh day of the eleventh month, that World War I was declared over.
It had been a relatively short war by today’s experience. Mustard, phosgene and chlorine gas would take their toll of returning veterans who would suffer from their effects throughout their lives. It became known as “the chemical war”.
Post World War I found our nation celebrating Nov. 11 with pride and patriotism. As a young man, I recall the parades of the 1920s, when soldiers could still fit into their brown wool uniforms, with wrapped leggings, bands played and the men marched in step, and those on the sidelines were equally proud, cheered and waved.
It was a war to end all wars, so the pundits said, and there was a brief 10-year period of relative peace, while some elements in the world were preparing for the next onslaught, or what would become World War II. In that war, our nation’s military lost 17 million dead and 417,000 wounded.
Now, 82 years later, we have experienced a dozen or more conflicts, of which our present generation is familiar.
Now, only 65 years since the end of World War II, our nation is still at war on several fronts, and many of our nation’s citizens have become disillusioned and lost their sense of patriotism.
Yes, we still have parades, with uniformed color guard, while many viewers stand with hands in pockets and hats on their heads as our nation’s colors pass, organizations march, bands play and emergency vehicle pass, but as I watch the spectators, I see fewer each year wave their hands or wave small flags; more intent on taking pictures with their new camera or finding something to eat or drink.
Sadly, I see the attitude of generations changing before my eyes, in remembering important dates in our nation’s history: Nov. 11 or Dec. 7.
It seems many people are more intent on attending seasonal holiday sales, celebrating turkey day or visiting malls before Christmas, than remembering the fact that our nation’s finest young men and women, have died or were wounded in order to guarantee today’s citizens the opportunity to travel freely, enjoy the fruits of their work, when otherwise, if we had lost WW II, today they may be riding bicycles rather than driving cars, standing in long lines for food, and spending German marks.
World War II Veteran