Tag Archives: WWII

75 years ago tonight

Kristallnacht – when the rancid talk of ‘the other’ heats up, as it does all too often these days, we should all remember November 9, 1938.



We’re not them, so who are we?

 In the quarter-century after World War II, the country established collective structures, not individual monuments, that channeled the aspirations of ordinary people: state universities, progressive taxation, interstate highways, collective bargaining, health insurance for the elderly, credible news organizations.

That’s from a NY Times op-ed today by George Packer (author of one of my favorite Iraq War era books, The Assassins’ Gate). It was true then. But we all know it’s not true now.

Later in his piece (which is about individualism as reflected by a celebrity obsessed culture), he uses the phrase ‘the great leveling’. And that perfectly explains I think why that post-War era succeeded and did so on every level.

The shared experience of WWII touched everyone, whether at war or at home. At war, the mechanic served with the lawyer whose car he fixed, and the young kid with an 8th grade education spent lonely nights talking to college professors.  Even more powerful in its effect on the later society was that they not only shared the experience but during it they were equals – all called to service by their country, wearing the same uniforms, fighting in the same battles with the same weapons. ‘GI Joe’ carried the same rifle as his lieutenant did.

They shared too, by rising to the challenge. And when it was done, they shared the tears and the pride.

It’s possible for societies to exhibit those values even without war. There are some here on our planet who manage it. But for us, that day is past.

We’ll never be those people again.

Now go have a nice day!

Dec. 7: meant to put this up earlier

The twins in my family (my brother and sister) were born on Pearl Harbor Day in 1945. Which is why I rarely forget either.

The Zen of twisted steel: thoughts of Japan

The only country to ever suffer an attack by nuclear weapons might now be facing the worst peacetime nuclear contamination in history. It’s not Chernobyl yet, but Japan is an island nation;  there aren’t a lot of  places to hide.

Japanese serenity garden

In 65 years, the Japanese pretty much became the people they attacked in 1941 and who  dropped atom bombs on them in 1946; they embraced the Western way of life.

Theirs is such an ancient culture –  I wonder if there aren’t some today in Japanese universities or think tanks re-examining all of it, wondering  did they choose the right path?

Westernization has nothing to do with the fact of the earthquake or the tsunami of course –  God laughs when God laughs. But I think the ugliness of the aftermath, the horror of twisted steel and broken infrastructure and now, radiation turned to poison the builders, I think these things offend beauty and serenity, thinks the Japanese have always treasured.

Just a thought.

UPDATE April 4, 2011: A writer I admire, James Howard Kunstler (been perusing his site today) pretty much said the same thing about Japan and it’s esthetic. (He said it six days after me, think he got it here? Heh, fat chance.

While Detroit was fiddling . . .

Look what the Germans did . . . this amazing factory sits right in downtown Dresden. I especially like the connection with the City streetcar system. This is a city that was leveled by Allied bombs in WWII, and rebuilt by the United States under the Marshall Plan. Wonder if that financed their wonderful public transit system?