It was the last “good war”. At least the European theater of it. It was the last great war before Americans got all PC and in touch with our kinder gentler sides. We can’t talk about hating the japs any more because that’s racist. But it is still OK to hate the Germans (and the French).
We grew up with WW2. As a kid I played with a real live 1903 bolt action rifle (no ammo). I must have pointed it at my little brother a hundred times and pulled the trigger. Meanwhile, he was doing the same to me with some other gun. Today, every adult in my neighborhood would have gone to jail for even knowing about that.
We watched “Combat”, with Vic Morrow, Rick Jason! We watched “Rat Patrol”. We even watched “Stalag 13” for commedy. We elected presidents who had served in the war (Kennedy, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Bush (42), and Reagan (1/2 credit)) and none of then had to make a big deal about their serice during campaigning. It was just expected (unlike Kerry’s “war hero” campaign).
We won that war. And we felt good about it because the Nazis sucked monkey balls. As kids, we didn’t know about the Holocaust. It was enough to know that the Germans were on the other side. That’s what made them the bad guys and that was bad enough.
The TV stars back then had actually BEEN IN IT. Everyone knew about the War in Europe and there were no guilty feelings about nuking them (even though bombing every city in Central Europe wasn’t very nice). All of our soldiers were courageous, chivalrous, heroic, and good Christian men. All of their soldiers were Cowardly, back stabbing, meat puppets whose sole purpose in life was to give our troops something to do so they could show how courageous they were.
Why were things different? Communism.
In the USA, we had a very active communist party in the inter-war years, just like all the other industrial nations. Ours was rooted in the State department and the Labor movement. In the early part of the War, the Labor movement was totally against US involvement. Then when Hitler attacked the Commies, the labor movement shifted positions overnight. In WW2, the Communists were on our side. In every war since then, we have been opposing them. And in the USA, we weren’t even fighting back.
In Korea, Viet Nam, and Central America, the communists were on the other side, so communist sympathizers in this country actively resisted American war efforts. In later war efforts like the Gulf war and Afghanistan, the communist left had just gotten used to be “anti-war” even though they really didn’t have a dog in those fights. They wer just doing it for domestic consumption.
Anyway, back to WW2.
The 50 airplanes overflying the national capital today are significant because they remind us of that war. That stupid bloody war that cost so many American lives pointlessly. Those airplanes are already antiques. The spare parts they need to stay flying are all hand made. It is a mystery if they will stay flight-worthy for much longer. As the physical reminders of our history decay, so goes out memories of that time. As the memories decay, so goes the context and framework we use to live our lives today and make choices about the next war.
I am sure that our current aristocracy would like nothing better than ruling a country where everyone thinks that the President has the sole authority to send US troops into war. It is very convenient. But that’s not the way things always were. Not too long ago, the American people had to invest in a war. Roosevelt held us out of the war from 1939 to 1942 because he feared he would be impeached if he took us into war. Wilson kept us out of WWI until the very end for similar reasons. Back then, A president knew he needed the help of Congress, representing the American people, to move the country to war.
It won’t be long until all of the real lessons of WW2 are forgotten, along with the rusting remains of the ships, planes and tanks.