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TRIBUTE Dad and Greatest Generation Keeping Memories Alive
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 20:21 by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
Veterans returning from foreign service in 2009 include many survivors who if not for state of the art medical knowledge and technology would not have ‘made it’ in other eras.
During WW II no one talked about the emotional consequences labeling it “battle fatigue” or “battle shock,” where now Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which ‘surfaced’ as a consequence of Vietnam is now widely and openly discussed. It does not come from horrible sights and sounds or experiences during military service, it can be triggered by a traumatic event, such as a fire, terrorist attack, or car accident.
Fortunately, soldiers returning from the urban sands no more have a stigma as bold as ‘walking wounded,’ as the military thanks to our Senators and Representatives have recognized the emotional component of coming home.
However as more graying greatest generation members pass, so too does a non-awareness of having experienced or seen portions of Hitler’s Final Solution. Occasionally, ideas surface that a Holocaust hoax occurred. Fortunately, as oral histories fade, filmmakers still engrave the atrocities of the Germans with such works as “The Boy in Striped Pajamas.”
It’s too early for substantial reflection to emerge on the silver screen related to the current wars. Actually, those films made tend to not find an audience. But for the enduring commentaries about Viet Nam to find approving audiences, it took until at least 1978’s “Coming Home” and “The Deer Hunter” and even “Born on the Fourth of July” (1989). Compare that to the popularity of “The Best Years of Our Lives” which celebrated WW II vets restarting their lives only a year or two after the surrender. Yet, though trenches battles prevailed, it took more years for serious reflection on the use of atomic weaponry on the Japanese ( “Hiroshima mon amour” 1959) and even longer to face the internment of Japanese Americans (“Unfinished Business,” 1984; “Come See the Paradise, ” 1990).
Back to the Greatest Generation, dad served proudly in World War II in the Third Army under Gen. George S. Patton, helping construct the longest Bailey bridge across the Rhine River in Germany and liberating one of the concentration camps. During one German battle he was the only soldier left alive, said his sister Jean Walters. And, like most of the soldiers of the era, he spoke of the best memories of fighting the German’s, such as chauffeuring, building bailey bridges, and a few close buddies, but did not speak of the remainder. Interestingly, his two buddies communicated sparsely too --- their annual Christmas card.
When Rev. Gary Patton delivered his talk at this year’s law enforcement memorial service, he stated that in counseling people at death’s door, most ask ‘will I be remembered?’
So, this is not just to remember dad, it’s to again allow the internet audience to see a bundle of photographs smuggled out of Germany when the troops departed. They speak for themselves. http://archives.huntingtonnews.net/obit/080317-rutherford-donaldrutherford/index.html
You can read a 1945 WW II commander's letter to troops by downloading the following pdf.
[pdf commander letter http://archives.huntingtonnews.net/obit/1945commandertomen.pdf]
And, in the words from the biography of the late chaplain of the U.S. Senate Peter Marshall, “See you in the morning, dad. Hope that your loving Irish setters , --- Sir Sam, Sage, and retired showdog, Brian to whom he regularly gave insulin treatments --- found you in Heaven beyond the Rainbow Bridge.