Remembering World War II

Monday, August 13, 2012

There are still a few people around who lived through World War II, either on the battlefield or here at home, but it won't be long until they are all gone.

My mother's brother landed with the troops on D-Day and survived, although he didn't talk about it. My father tried to enlist as a chaplain, but they wouldn't take him because of his eyesight.

World War II was a truly global war. Although there have been wars since, none have carried that territorial scope.

So why am I writing about it now? Because we saw a couple of WWII sites on vacation, and they reminded me not to forget. Not to forget the patriotism. Not to forget the sacrifice. And especially not to forget the atrocities that incited the war. To remember even after the people who lived through those times are no longer around to tell us their experiences.

Except that isn't quite true. Their stories live on in letters and books and at places like the D-Day Memorial at Bedford, Virginia.

The top picture is a sweeping view of the memorial. The second is a sculpture showing the troops landing at Omaha Beach. You can see the landing craft in the rear and a dead soldier lying on the sand.

Initially, Roland and I wondered why the D-Day Memorial would be located in a small town tucked among the Blue Ridge Mountains. But there is a good reason. As a percentage of the population, Bedford had more D-Day casualties than anywhere else.

If you are ever in or near Bedford, make sure you stop and see the D-Day Memorial.

The other WWII site we visited was the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, which is now a museum at Charleston, South Carolina. You can see the flight deck in the third picture.

I'm sure the Yorktown is quite a bit different from the aircraft carrier my son will serve on. But it is impressive as both a miniature city and an airport.

People who have served their country in wartime say that war is hell, and I'm sure they're right. I'm not a pacifist, and I even believe that some wars are ethical obligations. World War II is a good example: Hitler had to be stopped. Still, we should always consider whether war is justifiable under the particular circumstances, because it does have consequences.

That's why it is so important to remember World War II.

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