Saturday, September 01, 2007

A Nearly Forgotten Anniversary

Comrade Kevin has approximately 1.5 degrees in history and as my friend Lizzi famously puts it: contrary to popular belief, history is not a useless major. So the next person who tells me that I wasted my money and time will answer to the pair of hedge clippers that I have stored in the black abyss that is the trunk of my car.

Today's headlines are full of the dying embers of yet another GOP sex scandal, continuing chaos in Iraq, and the kickoff to another glorious College Football season. Gone nearly unrecognized is an anniversary that shaped to a very large degree the world we live in today.

On this day, sixty-eight years ago, the German blitzkrieg pummeled its way through Poland, officially starting World War II. Without this significant event, the History Channel would effectively lose 75% of its original programming. Without the rise of Fascism in Western Europe, we wouldn't have the ability to hang the term, Nazi, on people whose viewpoints with whom we strongly disagree. Without the world wide conflict that kept our grandparents and great-grandparents committed to fighting overseas for four long years, aging Baby Boomers couldn't wax nostalgic about the Greatest Generation.

Jesting aside, I doubt we can comprehend just how dramatically World War II changed everything around. I doubt we can comprehend tragedy, sacrifice, and struggle on such a grand scale. My generation and the generation of my parents have never had to seriously contemplate the abject destruction of Democracy as we know it. Though there were many number of Americans who preferred we stay out of the conflict and preferred an isolationist stance, once committed to the conflict, they pulled together as one. They had no other choice.

My grandparents talked about the War as though it had just ended. As they aged, their short-term memory was decidedly worse for wear but their recollections of World War II never faded. I can't even contemplate an event that powerful, that intense, that indelible. World War II reached into the lives and directly impacted all who were alive then.

Aside from a brief moment after 11 September, I can't think of any time in my life where an event has had such resonance in the lives of everyone.

No comments: