I was reminded today of how old I am and the times I have lived through. I was born in 1950 at the turn of the half century. Some call us the lucky generation.
My grandfather and grand uncles fought in WW1 – I listened to their stories. My father, uncles, and grand uncles fought in WW11. My father in law was a POW in Changi and Sandakan. Many years later he died as a direct result of the beatings and deprivation he had suffered at that time. Some did not return home. One grand uncle was beheaded at the Tol Plantation Massacre another tortured and massacred at the Battle of Parit Sulong.
My best friends when I was growing up were the daughter of Hungarian immigrants and the daughter of German immigrants who arrived in Australia in the late 1940s. Carmen’s father had served in the German Army. Veruca’sfamily had fled from the germans. We were good friends.
My father had friends who fought in Korea and the Malayan Emergency. I had friends who fought and died in the Six Day War in Israel.
I heard them talk and learned compassion for the shattered mind in the normal looking body. I have heard the stories first hand. I have witnessed the results of the anger and the fear.
Then as I grew into my teens, conscription was introduced and friends were inducted into the services and sent to Vietnam to fight yet another useless war. My boyfriend who became my fiancé and my first husband was in the RAAF. As a young married person, I met and spoke with veterans of all theaters of war.
Where is this all leading? Today I read a post about the problems facing Europe and the EU and the plans for a super Europe. It was an interesting post well written but it sends shivers down my spine. The coup de grace was then delivered by someone obviously much younger than myself who had read the post and was commenting authoritatively on its content. The comment commenced with “I studied the causes of WW1 and social change of that time which then led up to the causes of WW2 and the aftermath including the rebuilding of Germany and the way Europe was divided into the East and West at degree level.”
I realised that much of what I have learned and experienced and understood from first-hand accounts is now relegated to the depths of history and it is inferred that what really matters is that you need to study these things to understand them.
I had many friends who fought in Vietnam. They were never the same. The brain can only deal with so much trauma until it shuts down and the scale of these horrors must never be underestimated.
I lived through some of these times and lived closely with others who had experienced the Great Depression, two World Wars and the Korean and Vietnam involvements.
Today I realised how old I really am and that my views are drawn from hearsay and people’s unreliable personal experiences. But I have a question, who wrote the history that is now so assiduously studied?
I believe we now live in very dangerous times.