Saturday, August 14, 2010

Everyone's War - Sepia Saturday

While rummaging around looking for suitable photos for Sepia Saturday, I came across my father-in-law's WWII ration book . . .


 and this mini-edition of The New Yorker which was printed for distribution to members of the armed forces. . .

 in which the talk of the town is the atomic bomb and the cartoons show butchers with no meat to sell . . .

 and housewives who have learned to make do with rationed food and constant shortages . . .

and I thought of the All-In-This-Together Spirit that pervades English books from that era and is shown so well in the Foyle's War television series.
And then I thought about the differences in wars. In WWII, women went to work in factories and on farms to free men to fight; there was a draft; there were shortages which affected everyone; in fact, pretty much everyone made sacrifices. 

The wars the USA is fighting today are different. Certainly the service people are making tremendous sacrifices. But as for the general public -- unless we have a friend or relation in harm's way, our lives go on undisturbed. 

What if there were a universal draft - men and women - with none of those exemptions that so many of our current war supporters in Congress took advantage of because they had 'other priorities?'

A universal draft would put more people in the military so that the same poor National Guard units didn't keep being rotated back to Iraq and Afghanistan, so that we weren't paying Halliburton and Blackwater to peel the potatoes or run the motor pool or serve as bodyguards  -- jobs that in an earlier time were done by the troops.

What if Congresspersons were seeing their children drafted? Would they be rethinking these wars?

 For more Sepia Saturday posts, go HERE.
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39 comments:

maría cecilia said...

Is it late over there?? Here it is my darling Vicki!!!

Vicki Lane said...

Just past midnight, Maria querida! And I'm going to bed! Buenos noches!

Brian Miller said...

would they still throw lives away...maybe not so carelessly...but until a better solution is found, war seems to be the only thought we have as far as gaining peace...sad...

Bernie said...

I thought WWll was to be the war to end all wars, I don't remember a time there hasn't been one....so many young people gone, I find this so sad and always will wonder why countries continue to do this.
........:-) Hugs

L. D. Burgus said...

Yes this is a different kind of war. Our state has sent out now more men than ever were sent out during World War 2 or any other war. What a amazes me is it is men and women who chose to enter the field and fight the struggle. You have some interesting things to show.

jinksy said...

You reminded me, I still have the remains of a ration book tucked away somewhere. Must have been a nightmare for the poor housekeepers trying to keep the families going on sparse rations - never filtered down to us kids, though, beyond being aware the little stamps were often the subject of discussion...

Martin H. said...

Great post, Vicki. I love the excerpts from The New Yorker, especially the dialogue between the two housewives.

As for the politicians sending young people to war, well, it just demonstrates that we probably haven't traveled as far as some would like to think. As Pete Seeger once asked, 'When will they ever learn?'

jennyfreckles said...

I feel these wars are unwinnable. Perhaps if more of us had to be involved we'd speak up! One of my greatest regrets is that when the Iraq war began I didn't travel to London to demonstrate. It may not have done any good but at least I would feel as though I'd tried.

Miss_Yves said...

You are the owner of precious archive documents!

Thank you very much for your translation.
You are right for the second and the third verses, but "à reculons" means bacwards"
I wrote this to suggest the walk of the crab and the work of the memory .

Crystal Mary said...

I am a person who tidies up and throws things out.. Thank God you are not one like me. This is a real treasure. I'm sure at the time it was a much needed commodity. Now its a memory from hard days gone by.. Bless you.

Subby said...

Makes me wish I'd something of my Uncle Pete's. He fought over in the Pacific with the Marines. Heck, I don't even hae anything from my Dad( may they both R.I.P. )

And not sure who'll get my stuff when I'm gone...

And after what I've seen on YouTube...well nevermind...I'll not go into it here.

Vicki Lane said...

Too true, Brian and Bernie.

Larry -- Truly, I am amazed at those who make this choice -- though in our current economic situation, I'm afraid that many do it more for economic necessity than patriotism. And that's sad.

Jinksy -- you Brits had it far worse, of course. Like you, I don't remember scarcity. My husband remembers his mother dealing with margarine -- the coloring had to be mixed in by the consumer.

Martin -- the books of E.F. Benson, Elizabeth Goudge, and Angela Thirkell all deal feelingly with housewives making do under rationing. And yes, Pete Seeger got it right.

jennyfreckles - my feelings exactly. Afghanistan especially. From Alexander the Great to the USSR -- no one has succeeded there.

Miss Yves -- Merci beaucoup! I'll hop over to your place and see if I can fix my attempt. Lovely image!

Crystal Mary -- I hold the memories of several families -- I badly need to sort them out.

Subby - Yeah, I don't mean to go all political here. But one thought leads to another sometimes...

TICKLEBEAR said...

not everyone is army material. like other things, to me, it's a vocation. one i regret to see the need of its existence, but a needed one, until mankind reaches its age of reason.
:/~
HUGZ

Friko said...

In a word: hardly.
The warmongers are always those least involved in the actual fighting.

Suzanne Adair said...

Enjoyed your post, Vicki. The curious thing about rationing is that it stays with you, such that you ration in some way for the rest of your life, even if you no longer need to do so. My mother and her siblings, all well-off financially in their retirement, still ration, as do the parents of many of my friends.

I couldn't help seeing similarities in the roles of women during WW2 and the Revolutionary War. In the Rev War, women worked in businesses and on farms so the men could fight. But women also fought, because all too often the war came to them. There were no "angels of the home."

Suzanne Adair

NCmountainwoman said...

Thought-provoking post. Our own sacrifices for these wars are those of our Nation, including the cost and the effects on our future. Other than that, you are absolutely correct; not everyone is making other sacrifices and the perception is that we are not "all in this together."

How wonderful that you have these treasures.

Vicki Lane said...

An interesting concept, Ticklebear - mankind achieving an age of reason.

Friko -- and often they are the one profiting. In Orwell's 1984 there is always war because it allows the government to control the people as long as there is a common perceived enemy.

Oh, yes, Suzanne! Between the Great Depression and WWII, our parents had learned to be frugal.

And to some extent this was true in the Civil War -- the war came to the women.

Mountainwoman -- I was tickled to find them!

Meri said...

Amen! Sacrifices for war are rarely demanded of those who declare and prolong them.

Nancy said...

I was impressed to see your ration book. I didn't know they had leather covers. It's wonderful that you saved yours.

I was born after WWII but from what I read and studied, there was a great sense of unity in the U.S. at that time. These days there is so much dissension about everything going on in the U.S.

Would there be freedom without war? There would be no need for war if there were freedom - and the responsible use of freedom.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

When we entered WWII we were coming out of the depression years. However, we had the "all in it together," attitude since 1929, the start of the depression. Sacrifices were not new in 1941 -- they had become part of the culture. War was romanticized and marketed. We gathered new ways and new products for the war effort. Pesticides, and marketing schemes -- these latter two lasted until the present. War is not only wrong it promotes negative actions on all cultural levels. This present "war" promotes corporate involvement and we the people allow it. The military complex and corporations hold hands and promote war. It's their livelihood. No war is a good war. We just gave 14 billion dollars to the pentagon and cut welfare $58 dollars for each individual. Seems out of whack to me. --- barbara

TICKLEBEAR said...

well, mankind has had its golden age, at various times for different societies, but these were not peaceful times either, just a time of great accomplishment.
given what goes on with the planet itself, pollution, lack of water and food, poverty and diseases, catastrophic natural events that keep on happening more and more, plus the disasters we cause ourselves, i believe we will reach a critical point, hopefully before the point of no-return, where we will make a collective decision to seek the betterment of the human condition in less selfish ways.

wishful thinking, some would say...
:/~
HUGZ

Miss_Yves said...

I'm still on holidays( without my computer) so, excuse me if I'm late to answer to you. Thank you for your kind translation!

Christine H. said...

You're right, people would likely react differently if we had a universal draft. I have friends in the National Guard. It's been tough for them.

Tattered and Lost said...

We're barely touched by the wars today and I find it incredibly unjust. So few giving so much. I recently met a man who retired after 37 years in the Army. He was given a medical discharge with PTSD. He spent 6 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan AFTER he'd retired and joined the reserves right before Bush's folly. His first war was Vietnam. Since then he'd been sent to Panama, Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, then Iraq and Afghanistan. He lives with daily images of his friends being blown up and the bodies of dead children.

And the rich get richer from the war and those fighting the war are forgotten. It would have been nice if we'd been told to do something other than go shopping following 9/11. But then I dare not get started.

Vicki Lane said...

That's what I'm on about -- what Tattered and Lost said.

Barbara and Nancy said...

What a wonderful bunch of heartfelt comments. "Hear, hear" all of you. Thank you Vickie for bringing this about. I just love our Sepia Saturday group! And Vickie, you couldn't have said it better.
I have a ration book somewhere that my mother saved. It didn't have a leather cover, though.

CrazyasaCoolFox said...

Your last line and photo in your post rings of Vietnam. Another sad situation. Thanks for sharing these bits of history.

Marilyn said...

I loved the photos taken from The New Yorker - but I don't like wars, too many people being injured or killed, just too sad.
Thanks for visiting my blog.

Susan t. said...

Amen..AMEN.
susan T

Vicki Lane said...

I love it when the comments are like this! Almost a conversation! Thanks to all of you for joining in!

Alan Burnett said...

You raise many interesting questions and I am pretty sure my answers to them would be the same as yours. And the extracts from the New Yorker have kept me happily occupied whilst I have had my morning cuppa.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Vicki, great thoughts that we have talked about here ad nauseum too. I remember being happy when they did away with the draft, but now, I think it would be a good thing--maybe for those with real reasons, conscientious objectors, there could be a national service--ah I don't think we will ever see it! It would be good for the young who would get a time away from home to grow up, experience something else, be kind of employed while they ponder college or not, etc. I have some war ration coupons too but had never seen that mini NY'er. Interesting thoughts that we could discuss on & on & on.....

Vicki Lane said...

I though that was interesting too, Alan -- reaction to the bomb.

What if voting (and running for political office) were restricted to those who had done some sort of national service? That would be another interesting point to discuss, Pat!

TICKLEBEAR said...

voting is universal, in our societies. you would then give voice only to those more apt to start those kinds of things which you'd try to avoid in the first place. it is the diversity of opinions that keeps us from falling into chaos, raining in certain mentalities. be careful!! what seems a good idea does not always pan out the way we'd expect...

i'm just saying...

:)~
HUGZ

Vicki Lane said...

Hmm, Ticklebear -- I'm positing ANY kind of national service -- not just military -- you know, Peace Corps, VISTA, whatever -- so it wouldn't be only the hawkish types voting and running for office but the bleeding hearts and tree huggers as well.

TICKLEBEAR said...

why do i suddenly feel like i've just been recruted with this last statement???...


:D~
HUGZ

BTW:
what is "VISTA"?
we have nothing here by that name.
what's their purpose?
:/~

Vicki Lane said...

I'd forgotten you're in Canada, Tbear. VISTA is Volunteers In Service To America -- kind of an at home Peace Corps, working in under-served communities doing various projects.

TICKLEBEAR said...

well, once you know what the acronym stands for, it does sound so obvious. i get it now.
:)~
HUGZ

Tipper said...

Interesting post-and comment : ) Great conversation you got going! I have a few old ration tickets that were my husband's grandfathers. And the girls have had to re-read Anne Frank for their summer reading-so I've kinda been thinking about the things in your post-neat.