They Spoke With Their Silence

I want to encourage you to read John Kass’s reflection on D-Day, World War II, and the men who fought in it in his Chicago Tribune column. It certainly tallies with my experience. I grew up surrounded by men who’d fought in the war. They didn’t want to talk about it. They wanted to get on with their lives.

All the more reason for us to talk about it. Now that 75 years have passed we should be able to do so without either the wartime propaganda or the Cold War propaganda. Our fathers or, for many of you, grandfathers acquitted themselves well. We have not done as well. We have made a lot of bad decisions. It’s not too late to start making good decisions.

3 comments… add one
  • Gray Shambler Link

    I’ve only known one man who was there. He was in the navy, said there were thousands of ships. He said the big guns glowed red with heat. He was amazed at the whole spectacle. Remember,He was 18.

    I read TastyBits’s link, God, Most of them were 18. I think that if they knew how things would go, they wouldn’t have gone. I think if Eisenhower had known, he would have had a different plan.
    As per Tasty’s link, the few who made the beachhead found the German’s surrendered fairly quickly. Best guess is, Hitler had his best on the Eastern front, and these were lightly trained conscripts.

    We honor their sacrifice, and we should. But they were young, and no one had any idea what they were facing.

  • When World War II ended the median age of an American soldier was 25. That means that typically those who joined up when war was declared were in their late teens or early 20s. Grizzled, old veterans were 25 at the end of the war.

    We get a mistaken impression from the movies made during the war. Most of the actors were a lot older than our actual soldiers were except when you’re talking about general officers. The actual general officers tended to be relatively old. So, for example, Eisenhower was 51 when war was declared. Macarthur was 61, George Patton was 56. George C. Scott was 43 when the movie Patton was made.

    John Wayne was 34 when war was declared—basically too old for service as an enlisted man.

  • steve Link

    An awful lot of people who went to Vietnam didnt want to talk about it. That war didnt have death on the same scale, but it really screwed with guys heads for a lot of other reasons.


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