Pondering the meaning of WWII
To the editor:
With Veterans Day approaching and my having just finished 9 hours of The War, the television documentary, I am induced to ponder the effect that WW II has on people today. It can be called the greatest human conflict in history. The numbers of people involved can be mind boggling and hard to understand because it involves a huge jumble of numbers with a whole lot of zeroes. But it was a long time ago.
To begin to recall and understand what went on back then you should go to the Baker County Court House and see how it involved Baker County. In the courtyard on the east side is a stone column facing Third Street. All of the Baker County dead in all wars are listed, but for now focus on those killed-in-action in WW II. The 90 killed-in-action reveals that this was indeed a very large war. That is an amazing number of boys and young men sacrificed to the war effort from a small county in remote Eastern Oregon. They are gone. They are dead. Still, they are just numbers until you learn something about how they died.
None of these men died peacefully in his sleep. Many died of horrible injuries. Two on the list died on the Bataan death march where the Japanese brutalized them until they died. One was on the Arizona when it was sunk at Pearl Harbor with many trapped under water below deck until they ran out of air. Some died in prison camps. Some were lost in the giant air raids over Germany where the loss of 600 men per mission occurred at times. There is probably a very grim story associated with each name. If you could learn some of these stories you would begin to learn the real meaning of "killed-in-action".
Local people of any age would do well to stand before this column and reflect on the effect WW II had on them and their families. It can be a somber time but it can be very educational for younger folks.
Veterans Day is also to remember those killed-in-action in all of the other wars as well as the veteran survivors of all of the wars.