Seeing History Through Dad’s Eyes,I Found a Window to His Childhood, by is a wonderful piece up on the New York Times this morning in their series, Booming: Living Through the Middle Ages.
My father was born on June 16, 1949, 3 years, 9 months and 14 days after the Japanese surrender on Sept. 2, 1945. In 1947, at 17, his father enlisted in the Navy, and my dad grew up on Navy bases during the 1950s and ‘60s, including Pearl Harbor from 1958 to 1961. The effects of the Pacific War were right there, all around him. Everyone he knew and admired had deep connections to the war, including both grandfathers and two uncles who had served in the Army and the Air Force, respectively. World War II’s aftermath was a large part of Dad’s childhood and adolescent world.
Its rumination was mine. I learned from and with my father (through speeches, books, movies, TV shows, paintings, museums) about the grit of the British people in the face of 57 consecutive nights of bombings from the Luftwaffe, the sacrifices of American sailors at Midway and Iwo Jima, the G.I. Bill’s prioritization of education, and the giants of the time, Roosevelt, Churchill and Truman. It was something we shared, but I fell in love in my own right, too. Stories of endurance and collective sacrifice stuck with me: communities of ordinary people pulling together, a kind of solidarity I found deeply appealing.
Seeing History Through Dad’s Eyes is available at this link.
But one thing first: having an affinity for past times in which you did not live is something we genealogists attempt to explain to others. So I especially like this author’s take on bonding with her father over World War II. And her father has excellent taste in movies. If you haven’t seen In Harm’s Way, please stop what you’re doing and go watch it now. I’ll wait here and then we can bond.