Archive for October, 2008

The Cloud Side of the Silver Lining

Up until now we’ve been talking about how much better things were going for veterans at this stage in history- how they were treated better than veterans of earlier wars and how things were looking up.

These chapters are like the asterisk at the end of that statement.

In the first chapter, we read about the experiences of female veterans, and basically what I got from this was that they were expected to go back to cleaning the kitchen and having kids while the men went back to work. This seems not to have been an entirely popular choice, and on top of that, female veterans were not even treated as veterans of a war. Their mental health problems were not taken seriously by professionals in that area, and they were not afforded the same consideration as male veterans by veterans groups.

The next chapter, about veterans who were racial minorities, is about as cheerful. Again, these veterans were facing serious discrimination. One thing that was on a more positive note, however, is the way in which some of them worked together for more positive goals. One great example of that would be the Hispanic veterans group in Texas which worked for improved education in their areas.

Published in:Uncategorized |on October 27th, 2008 |2 Comments »

A Little More Modern

So it looks like this is the turning point in the way Americans viewed veterans and their place in our society. The way they talk about the American people’s reaction to returning veterans is much more positive than what veterans faced in previous wars we’ve studied. One thing that really stood out for me is when Gambone talks about society’s reaction to monetary benefits for veterans. He says their reaction was not ‘Why?’ but ‘How much?’ and I think that this is much more the reaction we see from people today. We really value our veterans and feel that we owe them a lot, which definitely was not the case earlier in our country’s history.

And this change came about because World War 2 was a popular war, and people supported it. They felt right and justified in having soldiers involved in the war and because they supported the war, this support later transferred to the people who had fought the war, because essentially they had done the ‘dirty work’ or the ‘hands on’ aspect of this national project. I think we could refer to the Vietnam period as a backslide (I believe that’s where we go next) in terms of the way veterans are treated, but I see in World War 2 the basis for modern day treatment of and attitude toward veterans.

Published in:Uncategorized |on October 22nd, 2008 |1 Comment »

Many Die, U Shall Also

That book was a really really good read. I was sorry to finish it, even though it has to be done in time for me to write my blog post.

I haven’t totally digested what I’ve read, but I like what Fussell has to say about public perceptions of the war after it had ended. He talks about J. Glenn Gray’s idea that when the atom bomb was dropped the soldiers still stationed in Europe were somehow ashamed of that. I don’t think that idea makes any sense at all. Wouldn’t any of us be glad to avoid the hell of going back to war in yet another country? As Fussell points out, it is a really idealistic thing to judge the decision to drop the atom bomb by whether it was moral. For the soldiers there, it wasn’t a matter of right and wrong it was a matter of life and death- their own, not that of the enemy. I hadn’t thought a whole lot about that, even though over the years I’ve sat through numerous classroom debates about whether this was right or not. Seeing it through our author’s eyes, there’s no debate to be had. It’s kill or be killed, on a much larger scale.

Published in:Uncategorized |on October 20th, 2008 |2 Comments »

“I’m Sitting In My Bunker”

My German brother sent me this, which was kind of weird because Germans don’t tend to have much of a sense of humor about Hitler. But it fits in with my habit of posting Youtube videos for all our topics.

Published in:Uncategorized |on October 16th, 2008 |Comments Off on “I’m Sitting In My Bunker”

My Internet Works Again… So I can do homework. :)

Doing Battle is a great read. This is my favorite book that we’ve read so far, hands down. It’s the most readable, the one that sounds more like a real person than a textbook. You can hear the author’s voice as he tells his story and to be frank, his writing reminds me of Jean Shepherd. (He’s the guy who wrote the story of Ralphie and the Red Ryder BB gun, from ‘A Christmas Story.’)

On topic, however… where the reading stopped, he hadn’t actually gotten home yet, but a significant part of the reading is devoted to his frusteration with the way the army ships it’s veterans around, assigning them busy work instead of letting them go home. He makes a really good point that the average German soldier was simply allowed to go, while the Americans had to stay and complete busy-work assignments for long, tedious periods.

The point system that he describes seems at first to be a fair way to get men home in an orderly fashion. It is only right that those who had been overseas the longest, those with large families or those who had been wounded should be the first to go home. But it was not fair that the army should keep those who had not collected enough points. Yes, they should have been sent home after those higher up in the point rankings, but not long after. They should simply have been put in a steadily moving line to the overseas transportation and allowed to go home straight from there. To keep veterans whose service was no longer needed was to take advantage of the men.

Published in:Uncategorized |on October 16th, 2008 |1 Comment »

“Business of the Monkey Variety”

I’m only into the second chapter of our reading and I already feel the urge to write something down.
First thing is, I can’t get over the dry humor in this book. I don’t know if I’m the only one who’s finding this absolutely hysterical, but their dry disdain for some of the people they’re writing about is great.

Now, the actual point of the post, as this is not just a literary criticism, is the substance of the second chapter of our reading. I am absolutely shocked at the abuses, corruption and mismanagment being described here. “Loaning” money which has to be passed off in a bathroom is hardly above the table and and building a Veterans’ home with no kitchen is just sheer idiocy. I am totally shocked by the way this all was run… what a scandal! And as usual, it’s the people we owe so much to who are being taken advantage of, forgotten about and used for a politician’s personal gain. Except this time it’s not just an election, won on a pro-veteran speech… it’s the man who’s in charge of the Veterans Bureau selling alcohol during Prohibition to get rich, forgetting to provide for the men he is in charge of helping and wasting funds which could have gone to the veterans in order to fund a highly questionable lifestyle. Reading this, I feel like, “Now I’ve heard everything!”

Published in:Uncategorized |on October 6th, 2008 |Comments Off on “Business of the Monkey Variety”

You’ve gotta watch this.

Published in:Uncategorized |on October 2nd, 2008 |Comments Off on

Rīgas Sargi

I know this isn’t American World War 1, but I’m going to stick it in anyway because it’s absolutely amazing…
This is a teaser for a Latvian movie called Rīgas Sargi, in English, ‘Defenders of Rīga’. It’s about the Latvian volunteer soldiers who, a year after the end of WW1, manage to hold off the last German and Russian forces trying to attack the capital city, Rīga.
The main events of this movie take place in early November 1919, and Latvians celebrate November 18th as one of their Independance Days. (The second is May 4th, celebrating independance from the Soviets.)
This movie came out last fall, while I was in Latvia, and I saw it for the first time on a school field trip organized by our History teacher. Now, the Latvian embassy is showing it in theatres around the country and I plan to go again when it is in Maryland in November. I hope to understand more of the dialogue this time. 🙂
Just as a point of interest- at 37 seconds, when they show the sign for ‘Jelgawa’… I lived there last year. Just throwing that out there- the scenery you’re looking at is very close to my Latvian home. Also, this clip is really old if they have it showing as a comercial on LNT, which is a TV station I used to watch *all the time*. They haven’t shown this commercial in months.

Also, there’s no dialogue in the clip, so you don’t have to worry about not understanding.

Published in:Uncategorized |on October 1st, 2008 |Comments Off on Rīgas Sargi


So as usual I’m going to pick a couple of things to talk about which really stuck out for me, instead of trying to cover all 70-odd pages, and as it happens the two both come from the first chapter of our reading.

The first thing which caught my attention is the way that the military higher-ups spied on the soldiers. They read correspondence, which I realize is well within their right, but they also sent spies out to ask the soldiers about their experiences. This seems like a really sneaky way to find out what’s going on. I should think that if they had bothered to ask more candidly they could really have avoided some trouble. For one thing, the could have performed the interviews in such a way as to get an honest response, such as anonymously or perhaps by questionaire, and had they made it clear that they wanted to know what the average soldier felt, these average soldiers would have been much more sympathetic to their officers, knowing that someone was trying to take their opinions and feelings into account.

The other thing that most strongly stuck with me is the allegations of abuse in army prisons. Of course, I think of our modern day Guantanamo Bay, though it’s not much the same. It does prove that this kind of thing, prisoner abuse, is not by any means a one-time problem for our country but had you asked me I certainly would not have said that Americans were recieving this kind of treatment from other Americans. It was a pretty shocking thing to read and I don’t really understand it.

Published in:Uncategorized |on October 1st, 2008 |Comments Off on Doughboys