My father loves loves loves history. I remember him saying, “if you don’t know history you are bound to repeat it,” I am not sure who he was quoting, but that phrase has stuck with me. Our family vacations were often to places like Civil War battlefields, and historic mansions, and the occasional reenactment. My first job was as a “costumed historical interpreter” at Historic Fort Snelling, and I have done some war of 1812 reenacting myself. But by far our family’s favorite time period is World War II. i remember growing up with veterans, listening to their stories and sometimes recording them.
So last week when Dakota City hosted a World War II reenactment, we took the children. Not to glorify war by any means, but to remember what that meant to the people who lived through it.
I think this reenactor looks like he is about 15 but I am 30 now so I am noticing people are looking younger and younger to me. But seriously I can not imagine going off to war at 18 or even 30. I think about the stories I know of people like Howard Froberg, went to shore on D-day in an amphibious tank and over then next couple of weeks had something like 6 tanks shot out from under him.
Or Vera Peterson an army nurse working in Dachau, one of the more notorious concentration camps, trying to rehabilitate the victims there. People like Richard Huspek, my grandfather who never talked about his experiences until right before he died.
Then there is my father-in-law who still has night terrors but who raised his children in a foreign land as refugees and brought my husband to me.
So in our hatred of the evils of war, we must not forget that their are people involved, on bothsides. I remember going to Paris in college and studying the “Lost Generation” so named because there were literally areas in Europe where a whole generation of young men had been wiped out. Think about what that means, I don’t really know what it means honestly, I can’t imagine it, I can’t imagine living through a war. Today I see houses with blue stars in the window marking that house as a place where a member is missing, serving overseas and the yellow stars that mean they will never return and I know today is about compassion, remembering, appreciation. We are not untouchable.