Seventy years ago today, the United States entered World War II. The country had already been activating its industrial machine for several years, walking a careful line of surface neutrality while actually supporting Britain. December 7th kicked that industrial machine into high gear and got the United States off the fence. When the whole thing came to an end about three and half years later, the world was weirdly the same and fundamentally different.
Over the past seventy years, I think the people in the United States and elsewhere have felt that they couldn’t thank the American World War II generation enough, whether they were in the line of fire or back at home working 16 hours a day to make the War happen. I’m not disagreeing with that sentiment.
Sadly, these folks are almost gone now. If you were seventy on December 7, 1941, you are now ninety. That’s just what happens—little seed in the cup? It was my grandparents, too, my aunts and uncles (some of them! I can hear the cry of “I’m not dead yet!” already), so I know it sucks firsthand.
On this day that we honor the Greatest Generation, at the end of the Year, let’s take a few minutes to reflect on, “Where the Nation is Going.” We’re dismantling the Postal Service. We’re praising the constraints and abuses of illegal immigration over a living wage as a community and economic development tool. We’re letting young men die at 28 in sport, some kind of hideous working class human sacrifice so that some people can feel entertained.
I don’t think this is what my grandparents had in mind. Some things are unforeseen—who knew even ten years ago that email, the internet, online bill pay and cellphone technology would cut into the first class mail service the way it has? Of course, to use most of that stuff, you have to spend a lot of money on technology that not everyone has. Oh, well, no matter. We’ll just make it harder for those folks to vote and then their perspective really won’t count.
And public education? Newt Gingrich wants public school students to run their own kitchens and clean the school themselves so they can have a job skill. Um, someone needs to explain to this guy that 1. Public schools are the purview of the States and local governments, not the feds; 2. The “job skill” gain typically associated with school is literacy and numerical competency; 3. Mass food service and properly maintaining a public facility is a bit complicated, and probably not appropriate to minors, even as part of a “job training” program.
So, if we really want to honor the World War II generation, why don’t we try a bit of cultural retrochic? Why don’t we just try, for laughs, for a few years, to fund and support the pillars of democratic government—schools, libraries, the post office, civil and human rights, voting access?
Maybe this doesn’t pencil out in your program performance model. Well, I’m not sure back in 1940 there was a “program performance model,” so, I guess that’s not part of my cultural retrochic idiom. We’re gonna tear out all of that Turn of the Century Bland (Attack of the Clones?) and replace it with some Arts and Crafts period, cottage industry, fit for the purpose stuff.
Maybe not what you were searching for, but today is Their day, not yours. 🙂