One Day’s End
My room is almost dark; I am kneeling on the linoleum covered floor at the side of my iron bed. My head is in my hands. My hands lie on the Chenille bedspread covering my iron bed. I have just finished saying my nightly prayers including the “Our Father.” The words, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” never had more meaning than they do tonight.
“O Lord, how can you forgive us?”
Memories like a flash flood swirl through my mind. I see thousands and thousands of daring young men, the best our country has to offer. The ones most blessed with body strength and intelligence innocently offering their lives to protect mine.
Youth drilled through demanding training to fight other men. Just young people, but taught to kill.
Some are flying aces with their girl friends’ pictures on the sides of their planes. Others are drab green garbed doughboys, in heavy boots with their canteens hanging on their sides, trudging through muddy rivers and over mountains terrains. Some with perky sailor hats and white uniforms are manning battleships in foreign waters lined with mines.
O Dear Lord, today women are willing shouldering patriotic duty. Some are dressed in uniform and others wear nurse’s capes. Some like Rosie the Riveter are toiling long strenuous hours in plants turning out warplanes, tanks, and ammunition. I see the flash of the soldering irons as metal is welded to metal.
Tractor and automobile factories are moving Sherman tanks, fighter planes, artillery, and ammunition off their production lines. These industries are in high production operating around the clock every day of the week.
The music and the lyrics of “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” and “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” gloriously carry one along in the spirit of war. Movies like “Yankee Doodle Dandy” sweep us up in musical exhilaration for patriotism.
My kid sister has her “Victory Garden” and my young 16 year old brother is undertaking to full his big soldier brother’s boots by helping dad produce food so vital for the country and its military strength.
I see stacks of V Mail and packages for the servicemen. Mothers and girl friends are mailing boxes of homemade cookies, candy, and cigarettes to sons and boyfriends.
Many are buying war bonds to support the cause. Moms are thoughtfully using stamps from their ration books to obtain sugar, coffee, shoes, cheese and other goods for their families’ welfare. Dads are working overtime to do their own work and that of their absent sons. Gasoline, fuel oil and tires are rationed.
There are posters and slogans. Uncle Sam, with his finger pointing at you reads, “I want you.” Others read, “Loose lips, sink ships” and “Rationing Means a Fair Share for all of us.”
Now my visualizations take on a frightening dramatic terror. I see results of the blitzkrieg, the terrifying air raids over innocent people, cities, and fighting men. I see twisted bodies, some with arms or legs missing. There is much destruction of equipment, buildings, and bridges.
In my mind, I relive the horrors of war. In a bombed city, I view a pile of lifeless bodies, men, women and children. On the battlefields are corpses here and there putrefying in the sun, while the battle rages all around them. There are blown-up tanks, mangled twisted vehicles of all kinds, broken down buildings, torn up streets and roads.
Scenes of the Normandy Landing, the battle against the “Desert Fox” in the dry lands of North Africa, the hardships of crossing the mountains in Italy, and the battles to control the Pacific flash through before my eyes.
Above all, the most shocking vision is the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. How can one comprehend the consequences of a single explosion killing eighty thousand people?
Today, August 6, 1945, World War II came to an end with the surrender of Japan. The war with Germany ended when Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945.
The people are wild with the news of the end of the war. There is singing and dancing in the streets with the overwhelming joy of victory.
What a dear price we paid for preserving our liberty. The tears, blood, death, and sacrifices are indelible memories for those of us living through these trying times of the 1940s.
We have been told that WWII would end all war.
Dear God, tonight I pray that it does.
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