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Rick_in_CA

Boy Scouting in WW2

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On this Pearl Harbor Day, I wanted to share with everyone two interesting articles on boys scouts in WW2.

 

The first is a Boys Life article from 1991 on boy scouts at Pearl Harbor. It is interesting the level of responsibility that the scouts were allowed back then. Sadly, I don't think anything like that would be allowed today.

 

The second is a Scouting Magazine article from 1999 on Boy Scouting in the Japanese Internment Camps. I am always humbled by the patriotism shown by those Japanese-American citizens even after they were betrayed by the nation they loved.

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On this Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, I just wanted to revive this topic.

I read an interesting note in my local paper today. This year is the first time in 70 years that there are no living survivors of the USS Arizona at the memorial ceremonies in Pearl Harbor. There are only five living survivors left, and none are able to attend this year. The WW2 generation is almost gone, and in a few years there will be no more living eye witnesses to the events of that war. I remember fondly the veterans and witnesses that I had the chance to speak to over the years and to hear their amazing stories, but grand and small. I feel sad that for most of our young people, that opportunity is gone. It's one thing to read about things in a book, or see it on the TV or film, but it is another thing to hear it from someone that was there.

Whether it's hearing Erich Topp speak about the torpedoing of the USS Reuben James ("I hit what I was aiming at"); watching an old navy veteran, with tears running down his face, tell another about watching a bunch of US navy destroyers charging the cream of the Japanese battle line at the battle off Samar ("I knew they weren't making it home, but just maybe, they could give the rest of us the chance..."); hearing all the stories from my mother and her family of their experiences in Europe during the war; or a family friend telling his eyewitness account of the USS Mount Hood explosion on Manus Island ("We were almost a mile away and it was raining debris around us...").

I'm sorry for the current and future generations, they will only hear such stories second and third hand. And that so many stories have been lost forever with the loss of the witnesses.

Edited by Rick_in_CA
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I had three uncles in WWII.  They didn't want to talk about it.  All gone now.  The uncle in the Merchant Marine was killed in January, 1941 on the Russian run.  Many first-person accounts remain.

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I mean, this could be said of any war or historic event— first person accounts are fascinating.  They are also ephemeral.  I don’t feel sorry for younger generations who wont have first-hand accounts of WWII any more than I feel sorry for myself to have never heard a first person account of WWI.

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As I've gotten older I have a much stronger appreciation for the WWII and Korea vets who were an everyday part of my youth.  My scoutmaster was on the beach in France on D-Day.   He rarely said much.

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My dad rode submarines in the Pacific theater.  He said it was just like "Das Boot"...I took him to see the movie when it first came out and he was sweating and gripping the seat the whole time.  This was before anyone knew what "PTSD" was.

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18 hours ago, bearess said:

I mean, this could be said of any war or historic event— first person accounts are fascinating.  They are also ephemeral.  I don’t feel sorry for younger generations who wont have first-hand accounts of WWII any more than I feel sorry for myself to have never heard a first person account of WWI.

Good point. But WW2 stands large in ways the WW1 didn't (though the US Civil War and the American Revolution arguably stand larger in their continuing impact on the USA). Did you know that in WW2, the United States had around 9 percent of it's population serving in uniform (around half of the military age , male population) and it shipped something like 6 percent of it's population overseas (out of a population of around 132 million)? Think about that.

Also most people today don't have an understanding of how WW2 still shapes our society today. We have the UN (why do the USA, Russia, France, China and the UK have permanent seats on the Security Council, but not Germany, Spain, Italy or Japan?), IMF (and the whole Bretton Woods structure), the EU, NATO, the interstate highway system, etc. - all of which came out of WW2.

Though the impact of both wars is extensive. WW1 saw the end of both the Austrian-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires. It led to the creation of the League of Nations, the Russian revolution, the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War (which itself helped create the east-west hostility of the following 70 years), much of which set the stage for WW2.

So you are correct, the stories are ephemeral, and that is the case for all wars or events in history. But I feel WW2 is still having a great impact on our society, and I am still sorry that today's youth are loosing a living connection to those events.

 

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1 hour ago, Rick_in_CA said:

Though the impact of both wars is extensive. WW1 saw the end of both the Austrian-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires. It led to the creation of the League of Nations, the Russian revolution, the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War (which itself helped create the east-west hostility of the following 70 years), much of which set the stage for WW2.

 

 

World War one also had the loss of German and Ottoman possessions in Africa and the Middle East. The arbitrary borders drawn by England and France creates many of the problems those regions have today. 

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For some reason,  I forget why, perhaps it was a "remembrance "day of some sort,  in my junior year  high school English class,  the topic of the Holocaust came up.  After some back and forth in the class, one of my classmates spoke up and said "you know, all that stuff is made up, don't you? It's just a fable made up by Zionists."  (what he said!). I had a feeling he was trumpeting what he heard from his dad...   Our teacher, Mr. Emlich,  got very quiet, sat down on the edge of his desk and starting telling the story of how he in his army unit had entered Buchenwald. What he saw, what his unit did.  The rest of the hour was Mr. Emlich quietly keeping his composure, talking.   He mentioned (I remember this, after all these years, ) how some folks have a need to explain things so the "facts" better match what their "opinions"  are, regardless.   The kid that made the comment was not quite as well respected after that. 

I was never in his crowd, anyway. 

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