Last week, I talked about the joy felt when wars ended (see https://cskjar.com/2019/02/i-sound-like-my-granddad/). I spent last week visiting my parents. By coincidence, my dad told me about his experience when World War II ended when he was 10. I think his story is a great addition to last week’s blog.
Japan surrendered in August 1945, a week after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That was peanut-hoeing time in central Texas where Dad grew up. He, a brother, an uncle, and his grandpa were in the fields hoeing when his grandmother came running out of the house whooping and hollering and waving her apron. They didn’t couldn’t imagine what could cause her to act that way. When she got nearer, she shouted out the news. The enemy had surrendered, and the war was over.
His uncle threw his hoe high into the air and shouted, “C’mon, we’re going to town to celebrate!” Ignoring the bellowing from their grandpa to get back to work, the three boys took off for the house. They ran inside and grabbed their town clothes. Their grandma said she’d take care of their grandpa and not to stay out too late. Running out to the old pickup, they jumped in before their grandpa could stop them.
Down the road at a low-water crossing, they bathed away the farm dirt and dressed up in their best clothes. The town was full of people dancing in the streets and rejoicing at the end of the war. Everyone honked their horns. The boys joined in the celebrations for a while.
By happenstance, each one had a quarter in his pocket, earned by working for a neighbor. They went to the confectionary store and bought ice cream cones, then paid a dime to go to the movies. My dad can’t remember what movie they saw, and he can’t understand why they’d spend that afternoon at the picture show. After working in the fields on an August day in central Texas, it was probably the best place to get cool and relax.
We didn’t rejoice much after the Viet Nam war ended. America was so divided over it that while happy it was over, most people wanted to forget about it. I’m glad over time we’ve paid homage to those who fought and died there. They did their duty and came home to a hostility. I hope no soldiers ever have to go through that again.
It’s been a long time since America had something to dance in the streets about, but the end of a war is not something to wish for. That implies we must go to war first. Maybe we can dance in the streets if and when the wars in the Middle East end after ISIS and the Taliban surrender. That may be too much to imagine or hope for, but it would certainly be a reason to rejoice.