A series following the story of my father in World War II 75 years ago. This updates the series Following the 10th Armored that I did five years ago. The beginning posts set the stage for 1944 and 1945 when he was in Europewith the 10th Armored Division's 80th Armored Medical Battalion.

#29- The End of Peace

• August 31, 1944
Card saying Buddy was leaving. It is terrible
• September 1, 1944
Letter from Buddy and Dora. I am just sick
— Diary Entries, Beula Keller Lehman
I sit and stare at these entries and the ones to follow from late summer 1944. Over these past years of researching World War II and my Dad’s involvement, I have had some of the emotions that may have been a part of those days for my family members then. Having none of the letters they sent, and never having talked to any of them about it, all I can do is guess what it might have been like. The 75 years that have passed give the remembrances a glow that I am sure didn’t have at the time. Most images of World War II are either in black and white or that sepia tint of old pictures. Everything is frozen in time; each event is a unique moment in time. But they were connected- one flowed into the next. I have been discovering that for myself as I have gotten closer to today when peace, in whatever way Army training can be peace, was about to come to an end for the 10th Armored Division and their families at home.

• September 7, 1944
Canned pears. Sent some to Buddy. (Added later)- but he did not get them.
— Diary Entry, Beula Keller Lehman
We also live in a world that is so incredibly hyper-connected that it seems like ancient history to think about families who didn’t know what was happening to their loved ones. The Vietnam War was the first TV war. Even though it was delayed by a day or so, we could watch Walter Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley bringing us the latest from halfway around the world. When the Iraq War started we all sat around the TV and watched the bombing of Baghdad live. Beula couldn’t do anything like that. So she just went on with her life. It was all she knew. Canning pears- and sending them to Buddy; putting money in an envelope for him to spend. Just normal and everyday behavior. Life was already disrupted. There are comments about getting ration cards or about gas rationing. Everything was uncertain and unknown. The best way to cope was to keep the feelings and fears as far below the surface as possible. To do that was to keep normal routines.

For Dora, only married four months, she celebrated her 31st birthday on September 10 as her new husband was boarding a troop carrier.

• September 8, 1944
Wrote to Buddy and sent him some money
— Diary Entry, Beula Keller Lehman
I have been surprised over these months and years of working on this story. It began as a way of honoring my Dad’s service and making some distant connection with a man I hardly knew. I discovered that many of the family stories and myths were true. At the same time, the diary entries hide as much as they reveal. I have been a pacifist for the past 50 years. I have wrestled with my interest in the war and how it was fought. I found myself intrigued as I dug into the stories. The events that were about to happen at this time 75 years ago changed my dad, I am sure. They changed who we were as a nation, first for the better, and then…?

In recent months I have also been challenged to figure out what these all mean for me. It is one thing to simply recreate a world that ceased to exist when the war ended. It is another entirely to discover what the personal impact of all this might have been - or has been - on me. How did this world-shattering war impact who and what I have become? I do not want to take anything away from the story I am attempting to recreate. It stands on its own. It is the story of Beula and her son, of my dad and my mom. It would be less than 20 years after these events that all those connections would be gone for me. All that would be left would be pictures and some words in diaries.

• September 12, 1944
Letter from Buddy and Dora. I think Buddy has left NY
— Diary Entry, Beula Keller Lehman

No comments:

Post a Comment