Old Enough To Remember When …

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January 11, 2021 2:11 p.m.
Guard in front of Capitol Building on day President Franklin Roosevelt declared war, following Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. (Photo by Thomas D. Mcavoy/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

Thanks to Tom Brokaw, we’ve been more than a little oversaturated in the veneration of the World War II generation. But the dwindling surviving members of that cohort have endured one helluva roller coaster from fighting fascism abroad to what happened on Wednesday.

TPM Reader WK checks in:

First, thanks, as ever, for yr excellent coverage and insight.

Also wanted to comment briefly on the current state of things.

My husband and I have just returned from one of our frequent visits with his 93 yo mother and her 95 yo sister who live in a retirement community in our Pennsylvania town.

Fortunately, they are both doing well despite the past year. (Though very disappointed that their first vax jabs, scheduled for Fri 1/8, were postponed due to a shortfall. No new date yet.)

On our way to them today, we found ourselves thinking about just this one family’s slice of history. Like many young women – teenagers – the two sisters left their tiny coal town upon graduating high school to move to DC & help in the war effort – one as a secretary at the State Dept, the other as a fingerprint analyst for the FBI working at the Armory. Seventeen years old, away from home for the first time, and HELPING their country!!

Their three older brothers were already in the Army, fighting in Europe. All three were gone for years, literally.

After the war, my mother-in-law met my father-in-law, who had left high school early to enlist in the Navy. He served as an airplane mechanic on an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific, also for years.

All of these people survived, and went on to contribute throughout their lives to the well-being of their families and their communities; there are countless examples of their service to others.

This morning we cried with my mother-in-law and her sister about the contrast between the fortitude of these men who risked their very young lives to fight against fascism, and the vicious, destructive, and anti-democratic acts of the people who attacked the Capitol.

There is a whole giant network of people to hold accountable, of course, from Trump on down. Our beautiful Pennsylvania unfortunately has its terrible share of dishonest, corrosive politicians.

The heartbreak in all this is very real. So is the resolve to fight against it.

Thanks for standing up to all this for so long – you guys are a huge help.

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