Ladyfisher
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

May 28th, 2001

Freedom


My father was 4-F. For those who were not around for World War II, he was not physically fit and although he would have liked to have served with his two brothers he couldn't. The draft was in place, and every male (under 45) had to report for a physical exam and if fit, would serve in the United States military. Many just volunteered, it was the right thing to do!

Both of his brothers enlisted in the Navy. Dad was a welder in the DeFoe shipyard in Bay City, Michigan. My mother's brothers all served in the Sea-Bees, the construction division of the Navy. All came back from war safe and sound except for a few dark memories. In the front window of many, many homes hung a small blue and white flag, with a gold star in the middle - signifying a son lost to the war. More than 400,000 Americans gave their lives. The mothers of those killed were called Gold Star Mothers, and they led the collecting of clothing for refuges, rolling of bandages for casualties, and sale of War Bonds to support the war effort.

My generation, children of those who went to war to defend our country and the world from tyrants still remember what a World War is. Most of you reading this may not fully understand. Korea and Viet Nam, horrible as they were, were very minor in the scope of World War II. Other than some gas lines during the oil embargo in the Carter administration, you have never known rationing. Or restricted travel, or rumors that the folks on the corner (whose parents came from Germany, Italy or Japan) were spies. You've been able to buy, sell, use, and do most anything you could physically or financially manage.

Those who gave you and I that freedom are the generation of people who fought and supported the effort which was World War II. No other conflict has so affected the world.

The service men and women carried the battle abroad, but on the home front, women went to work in factories. The first time! 'Victory Gardens' fed families and neighborhoods. Neighbors worked together to take care of those in need. Churches became homes for Red Cross workers who supervised actually making medical supplies for the war front. Grandmothers knitted socks, mittens and sweaters for the troops! String was saved, aluminum cigarette and gum wrappers were saved, bacon drippings were saved and used in the making of bombs - (and yes the bacon was rationed too, as was all meat, butter, sugar, gas, oil, tires, paint - and some I've probably forgotten.) World War II was extreme hardship on everyone!

And it happened in my lifetime.

I haven't forgotten. For those who didn't see it, give thanks my friends to those who kept freedom alive for you.

It has amazed and disturbed me for years there was no memorial to this generation who won World War II for all of us. It seems to me either everyone has forgotten how we got here, or pushed the reality, of how really bad and ugly a tyrant bent on ruling the world is, out of sight. Both are wrong!

We need a visual and physical reminder of what happened, and to say "Thank You" to those who have died - and to memorialize for all time their heroism. A place to celebrate the American spirit that brought victory of democracy over tyranny, light over darkness.

World War II Memorial

For the past eight years a battle of wills has been going on in our Nation's capitol. Petty bickering over where such a monument should be. All the money to build it has been raised, most privately, but also with most of the States contributing. The announcement was made today, May 27, 2001 the World War II Memorial will be built. Anyone who helped win the war, either a veteran or someone on the home front, is eligible for the Registry of Remembrances. You may enter your own name, or the name of someone you wish to honor for their service to our country during the war. The Registry of Remembrances will be kept on permanent display in the Washington, D.C., area to ensure the names of these Patriotic Americans are recorded in history for all time.

It is my hope we will never see another World War. But to avoid repeating mistakes of the past, we need to remember those who kept freedom for us.

If you are not aware of the Memorial, or wish to add a name or contribute (further contributions will be used to maintain the Memorial) visit the World War II Memorial website at: http://www.wwiimemorial.com

Freedom is never free. ~ LadyFisher

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