by Johnny Carlton
Copyright 2012 Johnny Giesbrecht
Johnny Carlton is a writer of suspense thrillers available as e-books at www.amazon.com
WHEN the Second World War began in 1939 I was only four years old and don’t remember the actual start. But I quickly became aware of it as I heard grownups talking about the “war overseas,” and it was easy to tell that this was not something good. And then when young men from our hillbilly farm community got “called up” and had to go “train in the army” and then came back for a “leave” before going away for a much longer time “far away over the ocean,” it altogether seemed just a part of the way things were. After a while I felt that the “war overseas” had always been on and always would be.
But then as I got a little older and we moved to a small village, and the war carried on into the forties, I began to see the picture somewhat more clearly. We listened to newscasts informing us about who was winning and losing particular battles, the comic section of the papers were full of war stories (Superman, Little Orphan Annie, and other fictitious heroes were busy fighting the Nazis), and, much more to the point, we would hear the sad news of soldiers from our own community and nearby having been killed or wounded or gone missing in action.
I began to realize that there were people who were actually hoping for the war to end through a victory by the Allies, and although I was all for that, it was difficult for me to imagine it. This was because I could remember no time without the war, and so a part of me felt that it would just naturally go on for the rest of our lives or longer.
But then, in 1945, it did come to an end. It was hard to believe. I was very happy.
Why was I so happy about it? The war had not given me or my family any hardships worth mentioning. While the young men from our communities had bled and died to keep us safe, the older ones and the very young had dealt with nothing more serious than a few food and gasoline shortages.
No, that’s not true, for there were many mothers, fathers, and children who didn’t go to war but who suffered terrible anxiety while they waited, and then often unbearable losses when those soldier sons and siblings did not come back–or came back with lifetime injuries.
Although no one from my little family circle had been of the right age to go to war, I knew of many who had. I was only nine years old when the war ended, but I was overwhelmed with happiness.
The little village we lived in had a town hall, but to celebrate the return of the soldiers, one of the grain agents cleaned out a huge annex so that it could be used as a dance hall for this very special occasion. Hung inside was a large banner welcoming the boys home.
It was a great night, the dance being attended by adults, teenagers, and children–and by the triumphant heroes who had come back from the hellish world of war to the peaceful village they had been protecting.
May we always keep a warm and honorable place for them in our hearts.