Reflections on the men of World War II

June 19, 2009

Written by a Hoosier History Live listener

I was interested in 90- year- old P.E. MacAllister’s appearance last week on Hoosier History Live! and his reaction to host Nelson’s question about his possible misgivings about relocating to Indianapolis (then truly a “No Place”) after he had served in World War II.  Mr. MacAllister had been enamored of his former city, Milwaukee.  But he seemed to imply that “minding” was not in his mindset; he simply did what he had to do. “My career and future were in Indianapolis,” he said. “Besides, all of us were going through a sort of culture shock.  I had been living in a tent in North Africa for years.  When I came back to the U.S., people were complaining about the price of gas and sugar!  That was a little bit difficult to relate to.”  

These World War II veterans are dying now at the rate of about a thousand a day. It was good to hear a fresh perspective on Hoosier History Live!

My 87-year-old friend Jane says that when the men came back from the War (including her “once-husband”) they just went to work, often at whatever jobs they could find. They also got married and had children, as was the expectation.  She says  “They just quietly went about the business of living.  They didn’t talk about the war.”  Certainly, they did not sit around in therapy groups and talk about their feelings!  And of course, Jane also got married and had children during that era.

Jane had also worked in a furniture-making company in Indianapolis during the War, and says that some of the German workers were let go because of their heritage.  “That was too bad, they were excellent craftsmen!”  

My mother wisely observed that the World War II era was the last time that all Americans were really united in the same cause.    

Will it it take WWIII to unite us once again?

Tune in Saturday morning from 11:30 a.m. to noon on WICR at 88.7 FM to catch this week’s Hoosier History Live! show: Digging up History: Madam Walker Home, Ransom Place & Two-Story Outhouse


One comment

  1. I really enjoyed that interview. My 87 year old grandmother has the same stories; she is continually perplexed by the self centered attitudes of Americans today. “The Greatest Generation” (a la Tom Brokaw) had their core values firmly in place. None of them would have even identified their behavior as “living their core values”. It was just the way it was. People behaved properly and were far more community centered. They set their standards high and held each other accountable to those standards. There was much less “me” and much more “we”. Not a bad way to live.

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