Archive for December, 2016

Christmas Holidays Once Again

Well, here it is one week from Christmas and this will be our last blog until after New Year’s. We bought two new sets of tree lights this morning to go on the too large tree that our grandson and his best friend will have gone out and cut for us. I say too large because when you are in your 80’s you can’t maneuver around on a ladder as you used to, but Christmas for the younger set must be as close to what it has always been for them as can be. The house will have to be decorated, furniture moved around, dining room table expanded, etc, etc.

In the midst of that, gingerbread houses have been made by self and daughter for a decorating party for friends and family as has been the case for as long as I can remember. An early version of getting the house ready for lots (16) of people will be run. Sun room emptied, card tables and chairs brought in, decorating candy laid out, and then done in reverse two hours later

Unlike previous Christmas seasons, however, the country has an unexpected President to take office in January. And, that is shaping up to be a doozer! It’s probably enough to say that the world is as Trump says it is: the Russian communists did not release those documents at the end of the campaign alleging the Democrats had lied.

Fortunately, I have major activities that are more pressing than national politics. The sun room is to be rearranged (again), the tree brought in, decorations laid out, candles put in windows and on Christmas Eve, the tree is to be decorated. Oh, and packages to be wrapped. Don’t ask about timing and order, that’s just the way it is.

Merry Christmas!

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Pearl Harbor Day

Following on the heels of my remembrance in my last blog about growing up in World War II is the anniversary of the Japanese attack onPearl Harbor when they sank most of our battleship fleet. This is another one of those days that people never forget where they were. In this case, it was a Sunday afternoon and my father was reading the newspaper, listening to a concert on the radio and I was playing with my marbles on the floor.

As we now know, the Japanese had used their participation in World War I to secure control of several sets of islands in the Pacific which they fortified and intended to use to control a good part of what we saw as the western Pacific. Unfortunately for them, things did not turn out that way. Not only did they lose the war they started, much of their industrial productive capacity was destroyed, but two cities were completely flattened by atomic bombs. Approximately 2,100,000 of Japanese military and civilians were killed, with approximately 111,000 of our military killed.

During my adult life, American foreign policy has been directed to seeing that such a situation does not occur again. I hope our government keeps this history in mind when working out our foreign relations.

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How is it we get where we are?

What is it that gets us going and keeps us going. When we’re young it’s our parents. They bring us into the world, then they send us (to school, etc) and then we start going and doing on our own, choosing and being forced into doing.

This afternoon, friends and I talked about how we were sent sixty years ago where the state wanted us to go and do. It was shortly after World War II, the military draft was in full swing and all males were subject to the military draft. At my university I was in a class with a retired admiral and a retired captain. In the summer of 1950, shortly after the outbreak of the Korean War, we ran into each other on the street at GWU and, after greetings, I was asked what I was going to do about it. The “it” was not named, but I knew “it” was the Korean War which had just begun. I wasn’t prepared to do anything about “it”, but the next morning I was down in the naval recruiting office on Pennsylvania Avenue with the retired admiral and retired captain signing up for an officer candidate program. Thus, began my naval career, and my adult life. I grew up in the navy, directed by more senior officers.

In so many ways, in my day, entering adult life was controlled (directed?) by factors beyond my control. Those factors were built into society such as the draft and the military. But, in almost all aspects of life there were forces that pushed and pulled young people in particular directions. My choices, and those of most others my age were directed by people and institutions over whom and with which I had no control. I worked through a master’s and a doctor’s degree with expenses paid through the GI Bill. I was offered employment at George Washington University and then moved into a professorship because of my education, but also because of my military experiences and public school teaching. I loved my work (though I had my bitches and gripes). As the University grew and changed, I had many opportunities to do different pieces of work while still in my professor’s role.

So, one step through life led to others: marriage, husband, father, Sunday school teacher, summer swimming pool member, kid’s swimming meet worker and on and on. As I look back, I was always faced with opportunities, but some, such as military service, were not initially seen as such. Some were not planned for, and a few had to tiptoe through, but all have led to a full life.

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