FROM THE EDITOR
|table of contentS>FROM The EDITOR||< Back|Next >|
Have an opinion about an article in Reed magazine? Have a memory that you want to share? Email the editor.
Class Notes &
Alumni News Editor
Development news editor
FROM THE EDITOR
Watching the War
For seven days in September, our home entertainment center (such as it is) was a jumble of VCR tapes with episode numbers scribbled hastily on the labels: The War–1, The War–2. Although it wasn’t easy to catch all 15 hours of Ken Burns’ epic PBS series about the Greatest Generation, I sure did try.
It left me wondering why I was so eager to vicariously experience the deprivation and devastation that World War II-era Americans witnessed more than 60 years ago. Why was I so thoroughly captivated by yet another very long documentary about the time when democracy and freedom almost didn’t make it?
By accident of generational timing, my own immediate family members didn’t go to World War II. My grandparents were middle-aged air raid wardens and victory gardeners in the ’40s. My parents grew up during Korea and had babes-in-arms during the Cuban Missile Crisis: my father, then an inspector for the FDA, even had a fallout detector stashed in his trunk to protect civilians from contamination after an A-Bomb attack.
But no one close to me fought or died in World War II. So I don’t know what it’s like to look at photos on a mantelpiece and make a silent note of who is not there: the young infantryman who didn’t make it through the Bataan Death March or the Battle of the Bulge; the army nurse killed by a sniper.
Almost all the men and women whose stories are shared in the pages of this magazine do know this pain and loss. They know what it cost to fight and win a war that, for all its faults, needed to be fought and won. So perhaps the widely-held obsession with the Greatest Generation comes out of admiration and emulation, as we ask ourselves what it would be like to have national consensus on something as momentous as fighting a global war. In this vein, we have provided some contemporary perspective on what compels a young man to serve in today’s army in the Endpaper (page 64) by Daniel Voorhies ’03, who has just completed officer training at Fort Benning, Georgia.
What is most compelling about the history that Will Swarts ’92 has eloquently chronicled in “Reed at War” (page 16) is the storytelling by Reedites, who are now eager to share their memories—with a young Reedie journalist, or with the volunteer interviewers of Reed’s Oral History Project. My only regret is that we didn’t have 20 pages instead of 10. There must be dozens of Reed women who, like those quoted in the story, left college to work in the shipyards or came to Reed on the G.I. Bill, and then had to struggle against repressive gender roles in the post-war work world. And for every Reed senior who rushed to finish his thesis after Pearl Harbor so he could join up, there are surely many more whose eagerness to serve was equally pressing, but whose memories we couldn’t include this time around.
If you know a vet, be sure to ask. He or she will tell you some stories . . .
|table of contents>FROM The EDITOR||< Back|Next >|