Letters from WWII
I have a box of letters from WWII that were written by my mother, her sisters, and parents to her brother who was in the war.
The letters cover a period of 3 years, and provide an amazing insight to life "at home" during the war.
The chatty, silly things mentioned by my always cool and dignified mother just blow me away. I must laugh that she was at one time just another nutty teenage girl.
One of the funniest things was somewhat of a mystery for about 3 months of letters. No matter who wrote a letter during this time, each and every person wrote:
"Did you hear about the ducks?" or
"Can you believe it about the ducks?"
Always something about the ducks.
I was so curious what the deal was with the ducks, and of course, there was no one alive to ask.
Finally.... finally, there was a letter from the youngest child in the family. It went something like this:
How are you? I am fine. Did you hear about my ducks? I have 56 ducks in the backyard.......
Mystery solved, but the duck story was not quite over.
For the rest of the year, my grandmother's letters would periodically mention that so and so came for Sunday lunch, and they "fixed" two ducks... or relatives were having company from out of town and came over to get some ducks.
I asked my last surviving great-aunt if she remembered 1944 as the "year of the duck", and told her about the letters. She didn't remember, but certainly enjoyed the story. She did say that meat was expensive and considered a treat during the war years. This is the same aunt who gave up putting sugar in her coffee in 1942 to help the war effort.
I suppose my point in this, is that the last global war we were in, whether at home or in the military, the entire population was engaged, and on a war footing. Everyone sacrificed what they, just coming out of the Great Depression, considered luxuries. People at home rolled bandages for the Red Cross, and knitted socks for the troops. Everyone with a patch of ground, planted their own Victory Gardens, which provided their families with fresh vegetables. Many people then, even in the cities, still had a cow or goat in the backyard for milk, and chickens in the coop for eggs and Sunday dinner. Everyone was engaged, patriotic, and losing the war was not an option.
If there is anything I would fault the President on regarding the global war on terror, it is his telling us to go shopping and just live our lives, rather than putting this country on a war footing, that actually impacted our lives.
The PR value of mandatory organization of neighborhood civil defense training, and many of the other volunteer programs from WWII would have made a tremendous difference in the perception of this war by the average American citizen.