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Ken Burns' PBS Series About World War II,
'The War' Begins Tonight, 8:00pm, EDT

If you've ever visited London or had the opportunity to live there for an extended period of time, you'd know which war Londoners refer to when they mention "The War."  Not so in the United States, where you'd get a quizzical look in return should you mention that term to most people.  Since World War II, the United States has been involved in so many wars that an average person can perhaps be excused for his or her ignorance.

Unlike 'The Civil War,' Burns' 'The War' is quite different as it looks at World War II not from the perspective of politicians, generals, or scholars but from the ground up. It chronicles the experiences of veterans from four towns in four different regions of the country.  

It will also, I am fairly certain, spark a debate around the country about the reasons as to how and why we fight wars.

With our country in the midst of another long war/occupation in Iraq, it is appropriate to ask ourselves these questions: why do countries go to war?  And how does war affect the people who fight in them?  Or, for that matter, the rest of us?  

Why Do We Fight Wars?
Is it in our self-defense or, furthering our ever-changing "vital national interests" or, some other underlying reasons cloaked under the guise of promoting democracy and advancing freedom?   Of the numerous books I read in over a decade spent through undergrad and grad school (and since that time) on topics like war and strategy, military history, conflict resolution, and the real reasons countries go to war, one stands out tonight in my mind.  The answer lies perhaps in Joseph Schumpeter's (the economist of "creative destruction" fame) classic book on 'Imperialism and Social Classes'

For it is always a question, when one speaks of imperialism, of the assertion of an aggressiveness whose real basis does not lie in the aims followed at the moment but an aggressiveness in itself.  And actually history shows us people and classes who desire expansion for the sake of expanding, war for the sake of fighting, domination for the sake of dominating.  It values conquest not so much because of the advantages it brings, which are often more than doubtful, as because it is conquest, success, activity.  Although expansion as self-purpose always needs concrete objects to activate it and support it, its meaning is not included therein.

If I remember my reading of Schumpeter's book, the argument goes something like this: prior to the concept of 'total war' -- in which all segments of society were invested in fighting and winning a war -- only the military classes actually participated in war.  As nationalism grew and the nation-state emerged as an effective unit of political governance, societies progressively became more democratic.  When embarking upon a war, democratic leaders had to seek consent from the governed in some form.  This, in turn, marginalized the military classes and they, in order to remain relevant, became more outrageous in their demand and call for wars - necessary or not.

Sounds familiar?  Almost a hundred years later, Schumpeter's explanation could very well be true for a small group of Neoconservatives hijacking our foreign policy during the Bush Years and sending thousands of young men and women to their early deaths -- many barely out of their teens!

:: ::

"Theirs Not to Reason Why, Theirs But to Do & Die"
How does war affect us on a personal level?  As for myself, I had family members (long since deceased) who served in both World War I and World War II.  The emotional and physical scars left by conflict shaped their lives in so many different ways in the years to come.  In family stories I heard about World War II, the stereotype was very true: few ever talked about it.  Those who did, did so sparingly and quietly reserved their innermost thoughts and memories of dead comrades to themselves. Grand strategies, geo-political objectives, and tactical battle plans, I remember being told as a child, are for politicians and generals.  In a Democratic society, soldiers don't make the decision to engage in war; political leaders, some with perverted personal agendas, do.

Lord Tennyson, in one of the most famous poems written about war, recounted the suicidal charge by British soldiers during the Crimean War.  This blind loyalty to King or country was also on display in the wonderful BBC film 'All the King's Men' (shown here on PBS a few years ago) about the ill-fated British charge during the Battle of Gallipoli in World War I and one which underlines the predicament of helpless soldiers during times of war: keep your mouth shut and obey orders from your superiors, no matter the consequences

The Charge of the Light Brigade

'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

For the average soldier -- as University of Pennsylvania Professor Paul Fussell brilliantly detailed in his book about World War II, Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War, and one which details the "absurdities, stupidities, and dehumanizing banalities of military behavior" -- the purpose of a war, any war, is the war itself.

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In his book (which I highly recommend), Fussell urges us not to believe and accept the sanitized and romanticized versions of war brought to us by Hollywood movies. For example, after the Nazi Occupation of France ended in 1944, the captured Nazi archives were not declassified until 1969.  Following that, Professor Robert Paxton of Columbia University wrote an excellent book on Vichy France, deconstructing and demystifying the myth of most French as being part of the Resistance, as Hollywood had been portraying it during and after World War II.  Marcel Ophuls' famous documentary 'The Sorrow and the Pity' and his later one on the Butcher of Lyons, Klaus Barbie, once and for all shattered this myth and explained what was really going on in France during the years 1940-44: the overwhelming number of French were collaborators.  

Fussell served in World War II as an army private and says that there is only one real objective in war: from a grunt's perspective, it is to win it and survive or lose it and possibly be killed.  It's really that simple.  General George S. Patton put it even more bluntly

No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.  He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.

:: ::

Ken Burns and 'The War'
This past Thursday night, I watched Ken Burns being interviewed by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's 'Countdown' and Burns said that during the World War II years you could go to any city, town, or community in this country and every family was either engaged directly in, knew someone serving in the military, or had contributed to the war effort.  The unifying theme, Burns said, was one of "shared national sacrifice."

In an article today, the Detroit Free Press had this to say about the documentary

History textbooks are for the classroom.

And Ken Burns doesn't do textbooks.

"Our work is an emotional archaeology," says Burns.  "It isn't just about dates and facts."

The dates and facts are there.  But more importantly, Burns puts flesh and blood, along with the ache and joy of real feelings from real people, into his vivid portraits of our collective American heritage.  He likes to call it "bottom up storytelling."

Most of those stories belong to natives of four cities in four regions of the country -- Waterbury, Conn.; Mobile, Ala.; Sacramento, Calif., and little Luverne.  Why those towns?  Because he and Novick sought diverse communities that most viewers wouldn't have preconceptions about, says Burns.

Still, as the UK's Guardian newspaper pointed out, Burns' film is not without controversy.

Sugar Rationing on the Home Front During World War II

It is often said that victors write the history of wars -- with The Spanish Civil War perhaps being the exception -- and so it is true for World War II.  There is a great deal of sentimentality associated with World War II, often referred to as the "Good War." I may not entirely agree with that statement but would point out that it was certainly a necessary war.  Replying to his critics at a speech that I saw yesterday on C-SPAN, Burns told the 'National Press Club' that he never claims that the United States was a perfect society in the 1940's.  Nor was it his intent to whitewash the inequities and indignities many Americans suffered simply because of their skin color or racial heritage.  Far from it.  With the internment of Japanese Americans and the cruel reality of segregation denying even basic civil rights to African Americans and other minorities, an amazing thing happened.  The same groups of Americans with legitimate grievances against their government and society contributed mightily to the war effort.  For a country staggering from the devastating economic and social effects of the Great Depression, tens of millions were asked to give back again to their country.  And they did so magnificently, with little or no trace of bitterness.

Contrast that to our situation today where, Burns said, with a society far more democratic in which there is -- unlike the World War II years -- a "poverty of spirit," with all of us acting as indifferent free agents!  Burns found this disengagement appalling in a democratic society.  Does that accurately describe our inadequacies as a nation or is it a reflection on the miserably poor political leadership of our country?  

It is undeniable, however, that the successful mobilization of men and women, materials, and minds against the forces of Nazism, Fascism, and imperialism by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the early 1940's stands in stark contrast to the appeal made by George W. Bush to "go shopping" following the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001!  This pathetic exhortation by Bush prompts a question asked by many of us in recent years: where have all our great leaders gone?

:: ::

"War is Not the Answer"
"War is hell," a famous Civil War Army general once said.  Five decades later, World War I was billed as the "war to end all wars" only to result in 20 million deaths and even more wounded.  The 20th century, instead, turned out to be the bloodiest in human history.  The United States suffered over 400,000 casualties; other countries, however, experienced horrendous loss of life, accompanied by unprecedented atrocities and property destruction during World War II.  All in all, approximately 72 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives from 1939-1945.  Following the war, the United Nations was created to prevent another world-wide war and while it has succeeded in doing so, several other regional wars since have resulted in millions of additional casualties.  Interestingly, Europe -- a continent whose history was full of bloody warfare prior to 1945 -- seems to have had the most success in the past six decades in curbing, if not, making war altogether obsolete.  It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that future wars between France and Germany -- two countries who fought three bloody and bitter wars in a period a bit over three generations in the 19th and 20th centuries -- are virtually unthinkable.  In that respect, the idea of the European Union has been a smashing success.    

For the United States, thankfully, we have not had to be 'Over There' (to quote a popular World War I song) to fight another large-scale war but, still, the killing continues to this day in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And even as it does, we should never, ever stop striving for peace.  It is essential for the very survival of the human race.

:: ::

Do Share Your Memories
Who wants to recall the horrors of war once you or family members have been "to hell and back?"  Difficult or painful as it may be for many amongst us, give it a try.  If you will, use the diary poll to elaborate on your family members' participation in as war combatants, victims, or as civilians during the many wars this (and other countries) have fought over the decades.  What do you remember anecdotally from stories your grandparents may have told you? How did their war change them or transform the communities they lived in?  Did anyone ever desert or move to countries like Canada to avoid being drafted?  If so, did they ever return?  Were any of them "conscientious objectors" and, if so, how did family members or neighbors react to it? Did you lose family members or were any injured in conflict?  If you did, how'd you cope with their loss or disability?

Happy WW II Veterans Head for the Harbor of Le
Havre, France, the First to be Sent Home

(crossposted at Truth & Progress, Progressive Historians, and Docudharma)

Originally posted to JekyllnHyde on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 04:53 PM PDT.


Which American Wars Did You or, Your Family Members or, Your Ancestors Serve In?

1%1 votes
42%36 votes
5%5 votes
8%7 votes
0%0 votes
2%2 votes
2%2 votes
27%23 votes
1%1 votes
9%8 votes
0%0 votes

| 85 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for Our Sanity (27+ / 0-)

    ... and for injecting some backbone into the current Democratic Congressional leadership for ending the Iraq War/Occupation.  They know all too well that the Republican Party will never vote to end this war, politically suicidal as it might be for them as I pointed out in this diary -- Wars and Elections: A Few Clues For Nov. 7th -- a couple of days before the 2006 Election.

    We can protest in the streets, try to influence our media, and quietly or loudly criticize our political leaders.  If not for our leaders, who will speak up for the tens of thousands of soldiers mired in an unnecessary war in Iraq?  Who will bring them home?  It could be, as this excellent diary by kid oakland suggested, that we're stuck in an antiquated political system that seems to be suffering from a severe case of paralysis.  If that is the case, more of the same will simply not suffice!

    Lord Tennyson's words, written long ago, ring particularly true today for our soldiers in Iraq

    Some one had blunder'd:
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do & die

    while most of the rest of the country "goes shopping" to fulfill its selfish desires for material acquisitions.


    ps: if you'd like, let this diary serve as 'Open Thread' for discussing this important event that Olbermann described as the "most important documentary" of the last decade or two.

    A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. America for Gore

    by JekyllnHyde on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 04:47:43 PM PDT

  •  A Short Guide (14+ / 0-)

    ... to Ken Burns' series on PBS television, 'The War.'  

    The first four episodes of 'The War' air Sunday, September 23rd through Wednesday, September 26th beginning at 8 p.m.  Parts five through seven air on PBS Sunday, September 30th through Tuesday, October 2nd, beginning at 8 p.m.  Each episode will also air individually every Wednesday at 9 p.m., beginning October 3rd.  

    Earlier today, I checked the tv listings in the Washington Post's 'TV Week' and in the Washington, DC area, each episode is repeated as soon as it ends on both WETA (PBS, DC) and WMPT (PBS, Baltimore).  So, for example, the first episode tonight will be shown on WETA from 8pm-10:30pm and also from 10:30pm-1:00am.  Additionally, on Saturday, September 29th, the first four episodes will be shown from 5:00pm-2:00am on WMPT.

    Here's a brief description of each of the seven episodes    


    • EPISODE ONE: "A Necessary War," 8-10:30 p.m. Sunday, September 23rd.  December 1941-December 1942.  The citizens of four American towns recall their communities on the eve of the confl ict when their lives are changed by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
    • EPISODE TWO: "When Things Get Tough," 8-10 p.m.  Monday, September 24th.  January 1943-December 1943.  The Germans still occupy most of Western Europe and the Allies don’t yet have a plan to defeat them.  On the homefront, almost all manufacturing is redirected to the war effort.
    • EPISODE THREE: "A Deadly Calling," 8-10 p.m.  Tuesday, September 25th.  November 1943-June 1944.  Americans get their first glimpse at the toll the war is taking when Life publishes a photograph of the bodies of three GIs killed in action.  The Japanese empire still stretches 4,000 miles, despite American victories in the Solomons and New Guinea.
    • EPISODE FOUR: "Pride of Our Nation," 8-10:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 26th.  June 1944-August 1944.  The tide of the war is turning in favor of the Allies, especially after D-Day. Back at home, Americans do their best to go about their normal lives, but dreaded telegrams from the War Department begin arriving at a faster rate.
    • EPISODE FIVE: "FUBAR," 8-10 p.m.  Sunday, September 30th. September 1944-December 1944.  Young soldiers learn that generals make plans, plans go wrong and soldiers die.  A battle in the Pacific is expected to last four days, but drags on for two months.
    • EPISODE SIX: "The Ghost Front," 8-10 p.m.  Monday, October 1st. December 1944-March 1945.  Americans begin to grow weary of the war, now 3 years old.  Internees at a prison camp in Manila are starving.  At Yalta, Allied leaders formulate a plan to end the war using bombing raids on Germany.  In the Pacific, Allied forces invade Iwo Jima.
    • EPISODE SEVEN: "A World Without War," 8-10:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 2nd.  March 1945-December 1945.  President Franklin Roosevelt dies.  Troops in Europe discover the horror of Nazi atrocities.  The atomic bomb is dropped on Japan.


    Hope this was helpful.  As usual, check your local area tv listings.

    A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. America for Gore

    by JekyllnHyde on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 04:50:32 PM PDT

  •  Talk to an older Brit some time (12+ / 0-)

    while they're still around. I've spoken to four evacced as children. None were particularly keen on war.

    What's so hard about Peace, Love, and Truth and Progress?

    by melvin on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 04:54:06 PM PDT

  •  There once was a time (5+ / 0-)

    when the American people were united in a just cause for the good of all minkind and everyone knew it was the right thing to do.

    The voice of the hood on DailyKos. Holla!

    by brooklynbadboy on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 04:58:54 PM PDT

  •  Dunno if I have time to watch it tonight (11+ / 0-)

    I ought to, as someone working on a PhD in 20th century US history. I think Burns' approach, to see the war through the eyes of the vets, is key.

    World War II is one of the most misunderstood, distorted, overly mythologized events in American history. The myths we began to tell about it after 1945 have played a truly toxic role in our subsequent history, down to the present day. One hopes that the notion of World War II as a "Good War" will finally be blown out of the water by Ken Burns. If not, then by god, someone's gotta do it.

    I remember my grandfather telling stories of when he was in World War II, a B-24 pilot. He and his entire high school class (all the men, at least) enlisted the day after they graduated in June 1942 (they went to enlist on December 8, 1941, but the recruiter told them to wait until graduation). After two years of training he was deployed to the South Pacific.

    He had good memories of his friends, but had nothing but negative things to say about the military, especially the officer corps, who he and his friends felt were little better than idiots. As I've come to learn, that was an incredibly common view of GIs at the time.

    One example came from November 1944, over the Philippines. His bomber wing was flying a mission and the bombardier looked down and said "you sure this is the right place?" The navigator nodded and said "yes, this is what we got on the maps back at the base." "OK," said the bombardier, and he dropped his payload.

    They got back to the base that evening and learned, to their horror, that they had inadvertently bombed their own troops (which was why things looked wrong to the bombardier). In an outrage, my grandfather and others stormed the HQ, and found the XO who had given them the false information. They made him resign on the spot.

    World War II was a horrific event. Maybe it was necessary, maybe it could have been avoided, who knows. But one thing is certain - all those soldiers who went off to fight it didn't do so for imperial glory. They did so out of a sense of "well this is what we have to do," a reluctant effort, but one done in the belief that by god, this will be the last time.

    Yet here we are, 60 years later, still fighting wars.

    America drew the wrong lessons from World War II. And because of it, we are about to destroy this country.

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 05:20:31 PM PDT

  •  Two at least... (9+ / 0-)

    Dad in Vietnam, Grandfather in the Pacific Theater during WWII.

  •  Two tours (10+ / 0-)

    in Viet Nam for my husband. He was a medic. He was also in Korea for a while. He still has nightmares about Nam. Especially about the children.

    War shocks the system and changes it forever. It is like pornography.

  •  One. (7+ / 0-)

    I'm the grandchild of immigrants whose kids were lucky enough to be too old for Vietnam and too young for Korea.  One grandfather served in the Pacific for WWII, but that's it.

    No more lies - IMPEACH!

    by Fabian on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 05:31:48 PM PDT

  •  Multiple Wars (8+ / 0-)

    Several uncles in WWII in Europe, uncle was a POW in Korea, and my cousin flew evacuation helicopters in Viet Nam. My father did not go into the military because all of his brothers (5 of them) we in the military in WWII. Thankfully, all of them returned alive. My cousin left Viet Nam an alcholic and has never recovered. He will not speak of his experiences. My uncle shared some of his Korean POW experiences when he taught my Sunday School class, but I'm pretty sure there are quite a few that he did not share. I do know that he often ate birds to survive, and he credits "a large black man" for saving his life on several occasions.

  •  3 war time and 3 peace time (6+ / 0-)

    My grandfather served in WWII. He received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained when his tank was blown up in Normandy. He was the only survivor and was flown home in a full body cast. He's still alive and was at my house yesterday, with my father, for a visit. We see him at least once a week - he's nearly 90 and a lifelong Republican who hates Bush!

    My uncle John (we all called him "Cub") fought in Vietnam. He committed suicide about 15 years later. Nobody knows why - he left no note.

    My brilliant and beautiful cousin, Christine, was killed in the Gulf War. She was a college student in the Pennsylvania Reserve (to pay for tuition) and her barracks was blown up in the Saudi Desert by one of Saddam's scud missiles. We were very close. Like sisters. Grew up next door to each other. I loved her so much and it was her death that turned me into a rabid political activist.

    My brother served 8 years in the Navy as did another uncle. And yet another uncle served in the Marine Corps. All 3 during peace time.

  •  My gandfather served in WWI (8+ / 0-)

    He spent months in muddy trenches and was plagued by severe arthritis in his ankles for the rest of his life.  

    My father served in WWII and Korea.  His active service in WWII was in the South Pacific.  He was a medic and earned a Silver Star for rescuing a bunch of injured guys off a cliff on some island.  We never knew about it until we were grown.  Even then he wouldn't talk about it.  The only description we had was from the citation which was stored at my grandmother's home.  He went all the way to Japan and was part of the occupation there.

    When Korea came up, they called him back, but he only had to go to the induction center during the week.  He could come home on weekends.  This service he would tell about.  There were guys who would try to get deferments by doing silly things.  One guy refused to give a urine specimen.  My dad was quite resourceful.  He went and got the biggest ear syringe he could find and came back.  He told the guy that he could give a sample or my dad would take it from him.  The way dad told it, the guy is probably still peeing!

    There was also a farm kid who had never worn shoes in his life.  He was in perfect physical shape but his feet were so calloused all around the edges that they couldn't get boots to fit him so he was deferred.

    Many others in my family served but this is already long enough.  At that time everyone contributed to the effort.  My grandmother worked at the Arsenal, kids collected string and gum wrappers, everyone bought bonds.  There were all kinds of ration stamps, meatless days, etc.  It was a different time.

    "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." - Walter Mondale

    by luckylizard on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 05:57:31 PM PDT

  •  Great diary JekyllnHyde! (5+ / 0-)

    you are one of the best diarists here and definately one of my favorites.  

  •  My father was a ball-turret gunner on a B-17 (6+ / 0-)

    He flew on 25 missions, 10 of which were unescorted.

    Went down in the English channel on his last mission.

    They ran out of fuel circling the target.

    All of this is leading to the fact that, aside from seeing a few planes shot down, he never really experienced the horrors that his squadron inflicted on the German populace.

    I should add, however, that my mother has told me that for about a year, my father couldn't hold a coffee cup without shaking the coffee out of it. To this day, he only drinks 1/2 a cup at a time.

    He looks back on his war days fondly. I think he chooses to forget the fear and embrace the friends he's made. He still goes to the reunions of the 303rd Bomber Group of the 8th Army Air Corps.  Every year.  The gatherings are becoming smaller and smaller.

    Like many Americans, my father never questioned the war or his role in it. He's quite proud of his service and has come to embrace his place in his Group's history - a little read book about the 8th Air Corps and the 303rd was written a while back entitled "Half a Wing, Three Engines and a Prayer.  My dad is all over this book. His pilot and crew commander was Bud Klint.  As I was saying, he has embraced his experience while blocking out the nastiness. Consequently, my father, rather innocently, follows his government without question.  

    I love my dad but I hate war. Even his.  He says the same thing. He hates war.  But he deals with his trauma brought on by his government and the governments of the world at the time, thru his shared experiences with his friends that are still alive.

    I have yet to see Burn's documentary.  I look forward to it.  I don't look forward to our long extrication from Iraq.  It will be bloody, ugly, and rude. Literally and politically.

    "Man will never be free until the last King is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." -Denis Diderot

    by joeyess on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 06:19:33 PM PDT

  •  Great diary, by the way. (5+ / 0-)

    "Man will never be free until the last King is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." -Denis Diderot

    by joeyess on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 06:21:25 PM PDT

  •  ... (6+ / 0-)


    but seriously, members of my family have served in pretty much every war before Vietnam. I've seen PTSD from Iwo Jima first hand. I've seen PTSD from Korea.

    The lesson of that history is that you must not despair, that if you are right, and you persist, things will change. -Howard Zinn

    by blueyedace2 on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 06:39:27 PM PDT

  •  Excellent examination Jekyll (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JekyllnHyde, Fabian, BachFan, la urracca

    A great uncle is buried in Arlington, my ex served in the Honor Guard well after 'Nam was over.

    My experience with WWII is through the "eyes" of a WAAC.  I bought out her library at an estate sale and there were several huge volumes of WWII which she had composed in chronological order during her enlistment.  She rose to be a commander, actually the first female commander of a military base.  She was quite gifted and not at all what you would think a "brash" military commander would be.

    Every time I read through her books [copious writing in the margins] or her writings, she leaves a trail as if she is there in person. Quite the inspiration she was.

    <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

    by bronte17 on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 07:12:03 PM PDT

    •  I've Always Been Puzzled (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bronte17, MA Liberal, Fabian, la urracca

      ... (and truth be told) disappointed by people who've never been in uniform or known the horrors of war through family members or friends and, yet, are so gung-ho for war.

      It's easy to do that if you're not personally invested in the war effort, I suppose.

      Thanks, bronte17.

      A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. America for Gore

      by JekyllnHyde on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 07:22:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps this bravado provides them a sense of (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JekyllnHyde, Fabian, la urracca


        Though, as noted in the children's book Red Badge of Courage, a human doesn't really know how or what they will do until the moment comes that they truly must react in a war situation...under fire.

        Honor and courage and bravery are all imagined scenarios for the chickenhawks wherein they perform magnificently. Reality, on the other hand, could well prove otherwise.

        Mister bush has had an "unexamined" life, likewise most of his cabal. He ran from many things, never fully facing his actions.

        <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

        by bronte17 on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 07:42:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The War (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JekyllnHyde, la urracca

    I'm looking foreward to this series as Ken Burns can even made baseball interesting to me. BUT I'm really dreading BushCo and the Minions wrapping themselves up in the aura of rightness and applying it to Iraq. I wish it had been scheduled for showing around Thanksgiving rather than the two weeks when the DOD budget and war supplementals are being voted on.  I'm trying hard not to see the scheduling as a pro-administration CPB 'conspiracy'.  

  •  My father served in the Korean War... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JekyllnHyde, Fabian, la urracca, statistic

    He was drafted into the Korean Army (ROK), along with the rest of his (male) college classmates.  His family had to flee Seoul, and became part of the flood of refugees moving south ahead of the invading Chinese & North Korean armies.  He's never really spoken about the war, but my mother says he was in an artillery group(?).  (Her family was lucky ... they lived in Pusan and didn't have to evacuate.)

    "Specialization is for insects." -- Heinlein

    by BachFan on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 07:25:38 PM PDT

  •  WWII Occupation Force (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JekyllnHyde, Fabian, BachFan, la urracca

    My father was on a ship sailing toward the Far East when WWII ended.  He was going to be a replacement soldier in the invasion force of the Japanese home islands.  He ended up serving in the occupation force, first in The Philippines and then for a year in Korea.  For him it was mostly a good experience.  When he returned home he went to college on the GI Bill and was the first on his block to graduate.

    My grandfather came from Italy in 1916, probably sent by his father to avoid serving in the Italian Army during WWI.  He signed up after his 18th birthday but the war ended so he served stateside in 1919.

    Pretty lucky on my part that neither saw action.  One of my Uncles served in the South Pacific in New Guinea, my father-in-law was in a medical detachment in Texas during the War and another Uncle was raised as a Christian in France.  He and his family, French Jews, left France for America after the War.

    Enjoyed the first episode.  Never heard of Carlson's Raiders.  War is Hell.

  •  I hope you're right (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JekyllnHyde, BachFan, la urracca

    on the dialogue front - but I'm skeptical.  

    My family has fought in every American war up through Vietnam,  I think - let's see, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII - oops, nobody in Korea, I don't think - and Vietnam.  I have a nephew we're not in contact with, so far all I know, he's in Iraq or Afghanistan right now.

  •  on one side (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JekyllnHyde, la urracca

    my mom's ancestors fought in the American Revolution, both sides of the Civil War, and her brothers and my dad all fought in WWII.  

  •  home front in WWII (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JekyllnHyde, Fabian, BachFan, la urracca

    Both of my grandfathers, who were young men at the time, spent WWII in factories. One grandfather was medically unfit due to a persistent hip infection, and spent the war in California building the hydraulic systems of bombers. The other was an expert technician and was ruled too essential to risk in combat, and lived somewhere on the East coast (I don't remember where they would have been then).

    To my knowledge, nobody closer to me than a great-Uncle has ever served in the military, which is pretty surprising...

    car wreck : car insurance :: climate wreck : climate insurance

    by HarlanNY on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 07:51:17 PM PDT

  •  My father landed in Normandy on D-Day... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JekyllnHyde, Fabian

    He had been on board a ship headed to the Pacific, when they discovered he was French-speaking, and sent him to Europe instead.
    He became one of the translator-liasons with the French forces, and was in a vanguard group that liberated one of the  death camps.
    I learned most of this much later, and some of it after his death when I got his service records.
     I was his youngest child, and his closest..but he told me little.
     He never told me he had five Bronze Stars, that he served in most of the biggest battles in France...
    he NEVER told me about what he saw in the concentration camps.
    I don't think many of them talked much about it, later...

    This is a very good, very thought provoking diary,

    War is hell, indeed...and to START an unnecessary war..sending SO MANY to their deaths...and that  may engulf us all, criminally insane.

    •  Thank You, la urracca (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      la urracca

      I know it's no consolation today to all of us who want to see this dreadful war/occupation end today in Iraq. but...

      Historians, and future generations, will treat this callous Bush Administration very, very harshly, I think.

      All the people who pushed hard for war against Iraq ought to be ashamed of themselves.

      A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. America for Gore

      by JekyllnHyde on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 08:52:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is one of the many reasons I pray that Al (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        runs...he saw it all along, and had the enormous courage to speak out.
        Who else was there? No one in the political world, anyway...
        And I don't believe in the inevitablility of Hillary...
        If Al runs...he will win.

  •  You should have provided combo choices. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JekyllnHyde, BachFan

    My father, father-in-law, and uncles: WWII (Army, Army Air Corps, and Navy)

    My AF uncle also served in Korea and Vietnam; his son served in Viet Nam and the Gulf War.

    Ohter cousins served in the Army during Viet Nam but fortunately were not sent in country.

    My niece served in Bush's war as a Marine and is now a contracter there (logistics and supply).

    Many of my friends were in 'Nam.  Other friends and co-workers went over for Gulf I.  A couple co-workers have done time in Iraq this time around.

    Most were not gung-ho holy warriors (the USAF guys being the exception).

    I had lottery #206 in 1971 and was grateful.

    "Never raise your hands to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected." - Red Buttons

    by Man in the Middle on Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 09:14:22 PM PDT

  •  Poll.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JekyllnHyde, Fabian, BachFan

    A combination of several american wars for my relatives - my both of my Grandfathers served during WWII - one as a translator, and the other with the Red Cross.  I have ancestors who fought on both sides of the Civil War, and I think I have some ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary war.  Dunno about WWI.  If you count relatives by marriage, I've got all the post WWII "military conflicts" as well.  

    I'm really looking forward to seeing this - I didn't get a chance to catch the first part tonight, but I'm sure I'll see a rerun, or catch it on DVD.  My former company licensed some music to Ken Burns's company, so my fingers are crossed to see it do well.

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