It was 1908, early in the twentieth century, when my mom and dad were born. They would both be centurions now plus one. They lived through quite a period in time. One we can only read about, watch movies about but can never experience ourselves.
The great war to end all wars World War I started in 1914 and ended with the United Sates participation in 1918. We were still transitioning from horse drawn wagons to the horseless carriage. What we call cars today. The airplane was in its’ infancy and was no more than wire and rags and sticks glued and tied together to take man into the heavens and deliver him to hell during the great air battles of World War I.
The trains still ran on wood and coal belching great amounts of smoke and soot into the air along their routes of travel. It would stick to laundry, houses, trees anything or anyone it came in contact with along the right of ways from cities to farm houses east to west, north to south and all points in between but, it was the preferred means of travel back then. It was the fastest means of transportation, the most efficient and the most comfortable. Many, today, think it still is or, maybe, it’s just the romance that riding the train brings to mind.
The 1929 stock market crash, the great depression, the Oklahoma Dust Bowl with its’ great migration west, Prohibition and the gangsters that became household names. Al “Scarface” Capone, Legs Diamond, Lucky Luciano, The Gambino Family and Bugs Moran just to name a few. You and I didn’t live back then but we know their names, don’t we? Well, my parents lived then and in Chicago where Al Capone turned the streets into shooting galleries and made the Thompson Sub-machinegun into the the Chicago Typewriter.
My mom and dad saw us, as a nation, become isolationists after the great war. We tried to ignore the problems of the world and just concentrate on our own. We ignored the advice of our once great military leaders to remain strong. Many had to leave their respective services in disappointment and some in disgrace for even suggesting that we remain strong. Col. Billy Mitchell was one such officer who was sent packing and later, when the Second World War came upon us, he was proven to be exactly right on all counts. He was honored by having one of the finest planes ever to fly in combat named after him. The Mitchell B-25, a medium bomber that did everything the Army Air Force asked of it and more. Billy Mitchell died before the start of World War II thinking he had failed. He was wrong. He hadn’t failed, we did by not listening to him. He was later honored by the military and the country he loved so much.
Isolationism doesn’t work, we found that out the hard way. My parents lived through that learning process. They saw the progress reaped by all nations after the second great conflict was at its’ end. Technology took a giant leap forward, as it most always does during conflicts, and we haven’t looked back since.
The planes of World War I could barely do 150 miles per hour going straight down. Now planes were routinely doing 400 miles per hour in level flight on a single engine. Jet fighters were now in their infancy but development of these machines for both war and peace were on the fast track. And all of this within forty short years of the Wright Bros. 100 yard flight at Kitty Hawk in 1906. Twenty even shorter years after World War II we would place a man on the moon. Now that’s progress.
In little more than sixty years we have gone from horse drawn carriages to walking on the moon, silent movies to surround sound, the Stanley Steamer (the car) to Hy-Brid cars of the future and, the future is now. Okay, maybe we don’t have flying cars for sale yet but, they’re out there. Maybe we don’t have laser guns yet but, they’re out there.
Think about it, Star Trek had their had hand held communicator. Well, we have the flip phone that will do much, much more than that communicator ever dreamed of. As a matter of fact, it’s the communicator and the what’s that thing Spock carried? Oh yes, the Tri-corder or something like that, all rolled into one infinitely smaller package.
My parents saw the majority of those changes and some that were projected to be changes like that stuff on Star Trek. Little did they know how close some of that imaginary stuff was to becoming reality.
They missed the laptop computer, cell phones, iPods, Blackberries and the like but they traveled on jets, they watched color tv, they drove modern cars, they enjoyed everything the modern world of their time had to offer and so did I.
Now it’s our turn to look back on what we have been witness to. I was born in 1947 so I have seen a lot more than most of you, not as much as others. We still have a long way to go and a lot more to see. My parents made sure I, at least, paid attention. Perhaps I don’t remember everything just right. My facts may be a little askew but, for the most part, I’m close or close enough. We have a responsibility to remember and to pay attention and to talk about these things. If we don’t, we are all too libel to forget. We can ill afford to forget history, ours or the worlds.
History, as we know it, is expanding at an alarming rate. Some things in the overall curriculum are going to have to be left out for expedience sake. These are the things we are going to have to investigate ourselves, after the classroom studies are over. We owe this to ourselves and our children and their children after them. We don’t have a time capsule that we can open 100 years from now for each family and their independent stories. Pictures, CDs, home movies don’t last forever. They get thrown out by accident, burned in fires, lost in moves, anything and everything can happen to them. Memories have to be related as my parents did with me and, I’m sure, as with my father, embellished a bit just for the stories sake, of course.
My mom and dad are both gone now but their lives live on with me. Their experiences live on with me. Thanks to them and others of their era, I have learned valuable lessons about our country, it’s growth and our people. We all are a little different yet, we are all basically the same. We are truly a melting pot. Sort of a hobo stew of the worlds population. A hobo will put everything and anything into a pot, stir it gently and call it stew when it’s hot. It works in the hobo’s stew just like it works for us as a people.
We may have different ethnic backgrounds, religious and personal beliefs but one thing always takes precedence over that which makes us different. It’s the one thing that makes us remarkably the same when it really counts. We are all Americans and when the chips are down, we will stand together and fight to remain free and Americans forever. My parents taught me that too.
I’d like to hear what you think. But for now………..
That’s MY opinion and you’re welcome to it.
Have a nice day!