December 08, 2007

Barely Smarter Than a 5th Grader

Last night my eldest boy had a school dance and my husband a meeting. I asked Bones and Mr. T where they wanted to go for dinner. I’ve been exhausted lately, having to drag myself anywhere, so wherever they said, I was intent on going, even though I knew I’d not be in the mood. They picked a Japanese Hibachi grill.

Now the fact it was Pearl Habor Day had been on my mind most of the day. I just completely forgot at that instant when we decided to eat at a Japanese restaurant. So, hoping this is the correct use of the word ironic, I found it ironic when I sat with my two youngest, in a Japanese restaurant, in America, on Pearl Harbor Day, and as most of the night’s conversation revolved around WWII with my emphatically stating to my children how it was the right thing to do to drop atomic bombs in Japan, my listening to Mr. T’s view on WWII and in turn giving my own little tidbits of history to straighten things out.

Everyone gets history wrong when they are young… hell, I thought TGOO was at Pearl Harbor for years. (He was one.) And then there is my eldest boy’s rendition of his grandfather’s time in WWII.

But for Mr. T, it was straightening things like… he thought the assassination of the Archduke of Ferdinand was the beginning of WWII. I had to explain he was getting his World Wars confused and that was WWI, and that America didn’t become involved until the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

You know… our schools take a pretty bad wrap for how they cover history. Let me tell you, my 5th grader knows an awful lot about WWII. He knows a helluva lot more than I did at that age. I’d never heard of the Arch Duke Ferdinand until my 9th grade year in high school. And he may have gotten the war wrong, but he not only knew OF HIM, but knew of the circumstances.

And as we spoke of WWII, he started listing the countries that were part of the Axis. His only mistake was repeatedly trying to put the Russians, as he called it because he knows not of the Soviet Union, with the wrong side. I understand why he kept putting them in the Axis, but we need to spend more time on where the Soviets fit. It gets confusing even for adults. I’m not sure he’s aware that the Soviets lost 20 million citizens in WWII.

We spoke of Pearl Harbor, the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with my ending that part of the conversation that he is never to allow anyone to convince him that was the wrong thing to do. I found that funny to say in a Japanese restaurant, but I stand by it and would tell anyone that is how I feel. We did not start that part of the war, we just ended it.

We spoke of the literary influences of WWII, such as the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We spent time discussing the horror of what it must’ve been like to live in London during the strafing and how terrifying that would be. We moved on to his Poppy who was on a destroyer that was hit by a kamikaze and the aftermath.

We spent time discussing what a difficult time it was in this world. We complain and we worry, but WWII was a time I often wonder if our country could stand behind and deal with now… as we are. Our country is not made of what it was then. I don’t know where it went wrong.

Maybe I am wrong.

The other day, we were driving down the road and we were stopped behind a car that had a license plate that read, ‘Pearl Harbor Survivor’. Good Lord. I had the boys do the calculations with me as to how old that gentleman, who was thankfully NOT driving, must’ve been. Older than their Pop and they think their Pop is old.

There will be a time when we don’t have the WWII veterans to talk about the war… to remind us of what it was like… what turmoil the world was in… and how it pulled together, everyone pulled together, to fight the evil.

I wonder if we could do that today…

Meanwhile, our local paper had an article today on a surgeon here in town that went to Iraq. He’s back and revamping one of the local trauma centers based on what he learned during his tour in this war. It was very interesting. And to up the interest just a notch… he is an immigrant to this country from communist Yugoslavia.

He had a great quote. He said, “…America is the best non-perfect society man has ever structured”.

I didn’t have to think long to know… He is right.

Posted by Boudicca at December 8, 2007 11:23 PM | TrackBack

I played the pipes today at Barrancas National Cemetery where a small group of Pearl Harbor Survivors were dedicating a memorial stone. Their chapter started with 188 members. It's now down to 15. They were bright, articulate, knowledgeable old men. I felt like I was standing among giants.

Posted by: Angus of Fife at December 8, 2007 11:33 PM

I was thinking when I pulled up behind that car the other day, I don't know any Pearl Harbor Survivors. I want to correct that. I want to meet one and talk to them. I want to hear from them everything. I've known a survivor of the Bataan Death March, who was absolutely amazingly articulate and with a memory that was astounding. (I still miss him.) I know a man who was a tank commander under Patton... he is 92 now and if my brain was half as sharp as his, I'd be lucky. I know holocaust survivors that are the same. And Pop remembers his ship being hit as if it were yesterday. He may be a mess in other ways, but his memory of WWII is absolutely intact.

But not one Pearl Harbor Survivor. I think that is my mission this year is to find one and thank them and hold their hand. I can't even imagine.

Posted by: Bou at December 8, 2007 11:41 PM

"WWII was a time I often wonder if our country could stand behind and deal with now… as we are."

Short answer: No.

We could, but many of those who could, won't. Americans simply do not stand behind their country the way they used to against common enemies. The Japanese and the Nazis are no different from al Qaeda, and the infestation in the gazillion billions of Islamofascists, in that they all wanted and currently want to destroy us.

In 1941-1945 we banded together as a country and defeated the enemy. Today, we acquiesce. The left-leaning citizens of this country absolutely perplex me with the choices they make, who they choose to defend, and decide that the civil liberties of illegal immigrant Muslims are of greater importance to protect more so than the safety of Americans.

A twist on what Edith Bunker once said: '...we can use a man like Harry Truman again.'

Posted by: Erica at December 9, 2007 11:08 AM

I don't mean to nitpick, but thought you'd want to correct the child's thinking before a paper was turned in on the war. He spoke of the Arch Duke of Ferdinand, but he was really Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, whose death was the catalyst which started WWI.

Posted by: Denise at December 10, 2007 02:46 AM

Denise- Ahhh, that was my bad, duly corrected. I get to typing so fast sometimes I add words and then when I proof, I don't catch it all. Happens A LOT. If you reread my posts days later, you'll find little things changed at times. ;-) Usually though, I'll hit post, having proofed it 3X over, and then reread it on my blog and think, 'Crap', and then change again, adding and subtracting words. I wonder sometimes if people notice. ;-)

Thanks for the catch!

Posted by: Bou at December 10, 2007 09:40 AM

I agree with Erica, no we wouldn't, but for very different reasons.

The reasons we won't today, are based on the fact that we are far too selfish. All parties and positions are inherently flawed, because they all answer to a "constituent base" that is born of greed.

They were the Greatest Generation, not simply because they reacted militarily, but rather, because EVERYONE Sacraficed. It didn't matter what your last name was, where you were enrolled in school, who you were kin to. You packed up and shipped off and if you weren't physically able, then you served in some capacity here at home.

Back home the costs of the war were extreme as well. Everybody was pitching in, paying whatever it took to fight the war, while mom worked extra hours to make ends meet.

That sort of commitment just is not in the fiber of this country today and it has nothing to do with liberal or conservative, left or right, it has to do with guts, something that both parties lack worse than Atlanta needs water....


Posted by: P'cola Titan at December 11, 2007 02:40 PM