Tag Archives: World War II


D-Day. How soon we forget.

To many people, 75 years ago makes something ancient history, but even so, we can–and we need to–learn.

75 years ago kids just out of high school enlisted or were drafted. Basic training turned them into men in a few months. Then these young men faced overwhelming odds landing against withering fire at places with tactical names like Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches. Others parachuted or crash-landed in gliders behind enemy lines.

Many would never have the chance to be old men, middle aged, or a fathers, or married. Some died for the cause of freedom, but would never live long enough to vote.

2700 British, 946 Canadians, and 6603 Americans claimed territory in France–two and a half feet wide, 8 feet long, and 6 feet deep. Others were never found.

President John F. Kennedy, in his 1961 inaugural speech challenged us–“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” That generation, now almost gone, did.

Memorial Day


This morning I read an article telling how many memorials built to honor those who died or served in the First World War are falling into disrepair. With a tight economy, many can’t be repaired. World War One was known as the Great War and the “War to End All Wars.” Little did we know.

Men and women have always gone off to serve, prepared to give what Lincoln called “the last full measure.” They should be remembered, but memorial buildings and monuments aren’t necessary. The second most impressive memorial I’ve ever seen is Arlington National Cemetery with the Tomb of the Unknowns. We don’t know names, but we know their spirit. We remember.


By far the most impressive memorial that too many of us have seen is very temporary. Combat boots with an inverted M-16, dog tags and a helmet. This was the memorial for the service members we had lost from our base. It seems like there was always more than one.

The base theater/chapel was where these were placed and as the military members entered, the placed their rifles under the pews – bumping the boxes of tissues that had already been prepositioned there. The lost member might be from any service – we all were working together.

Friends spoke of the fallen. We’d file past the memorials and render a slow salute; commanders would leave their unit coin as a tribute to each of the fallen.

An hour after the troops left, the memorials were gone.

It’s what comes from the heart that remembers these heroes, not necessarily buildings or stadiums. So today, remember – from the heart.

Forgotten Hero


“America’s Greatest Flag Officer” by Chuck Steele which appears in the June 2013 issue of Naval History magazine, is fascinating. When most people thing of World War I they immediately think of John “Black Jack” Pershing. Pershing’s success and reputation is no accident; he chose assignments based on how well they would benefit his future success. While stationed at Fort Russell in Wyoming, he married Frances Warren the daughter of the most powerful politician in the state (also named Francis).

Pershing used his political clout with Teddy Roosevelt to be promoted from captain directly to brigadier general, skipping over 3 ranks and 860 senior officers. He achieved the highest rank ever awarded – “U.S. General of the Armies” equivalent to a six-star general. It was such a unique honor that Congress in 1976 posthumously promoted George Washington out of courtesy.

In the meantime, William S. Sims career was unfolding in somewhat a similar manner. The difference was that he tended to seek assignments that would better the ability of the Navy, taking chances that could have hurt his career but were nevertheless the right thing to do. He accepted assignments that exposed him to the British, French and Russian Navies, and when he realized that the US Navy was not an equal, he pressed against the bureaucracy for years to bring about improvements. It’s testimony to his ability that he was able to take on the establishment and still be promoted.

American entry into the world war was critical to its outcome, and it ended a year and a half later. During that time, Sims was a most effective officer, while Pershing managed to infuriate his French counterpart.

Today, history remembers Pershing and has all but forgotten Sims. However, Sims made his choices based on what was best for the Navy, and did not seek glory, so I think he’d be fine with that.


Before World War II, most men wore undershirts – the ones that had the manly spaghetti straps over the shoulders. The military issued tee shirts, and a fashion trend followed.

We made tee shirts upscale by adding a collar, a couple of buttons and an alligator embroidered over the left breast. Look closely, it’s an alligator, not a crocodile. If you think it’s a guy playing polo, you may need to clean your glasses.

Somewhere along the line, someone decided to start printing slogans.

"Have a nice day!" said Forrest Gump as he continued running.

“Have a nice day!” said Forrest Gump as he continued running.

“Property of University of Akron Athletic Department”

“I’m with Stupid ->”

{FRONT} “I have a degree in Liberal Arts”

{BACK} “Do you want fries with that?”

{FRONT} “On that grand and glorious 8th day God created beer”

{BACK} “and gave it to the Irish!”

Why do I bring this up?

My suggestion to improve the world; if you’re going to wear a tee shirt with a witty saying, please keep your arms by your side so we can read it. If it is continued on the back, periodically doing a 180 degree turn long enough for people to read the punch line would be appreciated. And please, PLEASE, don’t think people are looking at you. It’s the witty saying on your shirt that catches attention, not your corporeal presence.

Otherwise, just wear a plain old shirt.

A Day That Will Live in Infamy

{Nowhere Man will continue}

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt speech in which he asked Congress for a declaration of war with Japan.


It has been 71 years since that day. Cries of “Remember Pearl Harbor” have faded. No longer a day of infamy, it passed largely unnoticed by most Americans.

That is how healing happens.

Veterans know that there is a time for war and a time to lay down one’s arms. The enemy ceases to be a nameless, faceless monster and becomes a type of kindred spirit, fighting for different beliefs. Often, this is followed by alliances between once warring nations and a strange but special camaraderie between once bitter enemies.

During the war we viewed ourselves as divinely inspired and the Japanese as barely human. After the war we had to reconcile how we were not, in fact, perfect. We treated American citizens of Japanese descent horrendously we and we treated black American soldiers and sailors with outrageous disrespect.

Along with healing comes growth. With growth comes the opportunity for maturity.

I believe that humans have the extraordinary ability to grow and learn from whatever life throws at them. I see those who lived and served during the Second World War and understand why they are revered as “the greatest generation.” They pulled together for a common cause in the face of adversity. However, each following generation has the ability – and the responsibility – to continue to build on what they experienced, what they endured, and what they learned from it.

Today honor those who faced the challenge 71 years ago.

Tomorrow, continue the journey forward.