I was a child of WW2 — from eight to twelve years old. The Pearl Harbor announcement interrupted one of my Sunday afternoon children’s programs. We had an aircraft warning station in our front yard on the lower slopes of Avon mountain and I used to teach the adult volunteers how to report aircraft passing by to the central office in Washington and I was an expert in identifying aircraft. Our comic books depicted our enemies in vile caricatures doing horrible things. We saw the oil on our ocean beaches and understand that it came from our tankers sunk b the German wolf packs and we worried about a West Coast invasion by the Japanese with only one aircraft carrier left to protect us. I cheered with my friends the Japanese fighters shown being shot down during the Pacific battles and we all were elated at the news of our new secret weapon that had destroyed Hiroshima and which would bring Japan to its knees. We worried about the battle of the bulge which the Germans staged as a last gasp effort and I was relieved that two uncles had survived each a deadly encounter which in one case had killed many of his buddies and in the other had nearly blown a French port sky-high..

It was with a sudden wrench, then, that I found myself yesterday cheering on the repeat of our blowing Japanese torpedo bombers violently out of the air when it struck me for the first time that there had been real people flying them. It has taken me nearly seven decades to forgive and acknowledge that even winning a war is pure hell!

And what of the kids today — here and over there?

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]
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