The problem with history is that it continues to change as different writers resort to some amount of literary license in each rewriting of accounts. In a few more years, we should not be surprised to read that George Washington went to town riding on an ATV. Real historical information can still be found, but you should not expect to get anything but basic information from a textbook. The place to find the real story of how things actually were or happened comes from reading the news publications of the time.
Old newspapers, books and magazines are still showing up from the 1800s, and can be bought, but are in short supply. I personally prefer these items dated from the 1930s into the 1960s, with my favorite being the World War II years. Hollywood has made a slew of movies about WWII, but most were made for entertainment, and to make a profit for the movie company. Sure there was a bit of truth in the script, but the writers also made small changes that resulted in a better story, but maybe resulted in presenting a “Butterfly Effect” for the future.
My Dad and several members of my family were participants in this war. One was killed on Tarawa, and never found. I want to know all I can about what that time in our history was like. Unfortunately, it is too late to ask my relatives, so I look for information that was published during that time.
This past week, I scored a big one at a shop in Bowdon — a pristine issue of “The American Legion Magazine,” dated July 1944. My Dad was a Legionnaire, I am a Legionnaire, and this magazine was beyond belief. The front cover shows a crowd of German prisoners who have just surrendered being held by their American captors. Since it was a time of war, there is a picture of a War Savings Bond overlaid over the captives to represent where the money to buy the bond went. When the magazine was opened, I was looking at a different time, and a different world.
Inside the pages, there are all sorts of military oriented advertisements; pictures of war planes, tanks, soldiers, ships, and even rubber boats carrying torpedoes. The articles were unlike those of today. In July of 1944, the war was still going strong, and the Germans and Japanese were still our enemies. The stories were a combination of entertainment and a report to the readers as to how things were progressing in the war theaters. Some described the conflict, and some the aftermath. There were stories of men and of women who were serving in Europe and on the Pacific Islands.
You have to remember that during these years, there was no such thing as being “politically correct,” so some of the advertisements and some of the stories might not be printable these days. That too is part of our history, and a part that is being removed from our books these days. That’s how it happens. Remove a small bit here and a small one there, and pretty soon WWII becomes a totally different story.
So, if you want to get the pre-sanitized story of how it was a way back when, find an old magazine or newspaper and take a look. It isn’t all that hard to do. You can probably spend two or three dollars at a yard sale, and get a thousand-dollar education. Better yet, ask a vet. You will get a story and an experience.
The American Legion Magazine is written by veterans for veterans. The vets from World War I wrote the articles for those in WWII, they in turn wrote for the Korean vets, and so on. I am going to donate this edition to Post 143 so that the vets who were in WWII can read some of the things they did. Just ask for it there.
Robinson, a Vietnam veteran and member of American Legion Post 143, writes a weekly column on veterans issues for the Times-Georgian.