World War I may have been referred to as “The Great War” and why not. Over 16 million deaths were a result of that war.
But World War II surpassed that number with over 60 million deaths. That’s over three percent of the entire population of the world in 1939, the year World War II started.
Most of my early images of World War II came from the old Hollywood propaganda films made in the 1940’s, the films that I loved as a kid. They were shown on the television late in the afternoon when I got home from school.
And as with most young boys war movies fascinated me. There were good guys, bad guys and faraway places. There were machine guns, grenades, tanks, bazookas, P51 Mustangs, all very exciting to a kid.
As I grew older I learned of the romanticism of war, the valor and comradery among men, brothers.
But as Hollywood began to make movies that were more realistic I began to see, at least through second hand eyes, the horrors of war.
Still to this day World War II has a grip on me.
What could drive so called modern era people to commit such heinous crimes en masse?
Since asking myself that question I have readily devoured books, articles, pictures and films dealing with World War II.
Although I have never found a simple explanation I have learned more and more about how people can be willingly manipulated. As part of the title of the Hannah Arendt book “…the Banality of Evil” suggests people can become a drone in an evil society that has reduced certain human’s rights to insignificance. But still I find it hard to wrap my head around any explanation of just a cog in a bureaucracy of evil.
My last post (Robbed of the Honor They Deserved) spoke about how I grew up during the Vietnam War and although it raged through my childhood into my teenage years I had no direct connection with anyone who was affected by that war.
World War II however, had numerous direct connections to my life.
All my paternal uncles, my father-in-law and his older brothers served in World War II.
My one uncle was a sniper who served under General George S. Patton in the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge.
All the years my uncle was alive and all the years of my fascination with this war and I never knew of his service until very late in his life.
I thought today I would share a poem that I had written shortly after his passing when I was reminded of his service in World War II.
Although I cannot claim a close personal bond with my uncle there is a pride I have for his service.
We should have that pride for all of those who served their country no matter the war or motive. It is a selfless act and needs to be honored by all.
I hope you enjoy my poem “Humble Old Soldier” just follow the link.
© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.