Tribute To "VE" Day

Wally Hoffman 

© Copyright 2005 by Wally Hoffman 

Photo of a B-17.

We were all common ordinary people who tempered the depredations of the “Great Depression” by learning to make the best of all obstacles. At the end of World War Two we numbered 16 million who, during the course of the war, had been gathered together from all walks of life and immediately thrust into a series of life threatening emotions. When the WW II Memorial was dedicated there were approximately four million WW II Veterans still alive with an attrition rate of about 1,100 per day.

Our staid lives were abruptly changed as in very short time we were given limited technical and emotional life threatening preparedness to carry out our part of the immense war effort.  We had all personally sensed our own way of life being threatened and every person jumped in to get the job done and get on with their lives. We were all sacrificing our youth, but with no regrets. All too soon we became clearly acquainted with fear, knowing full well the specter of death continually hovered over all of us.  She seemed to be patiently waiting for the proper time to gather us to her bosom. Each of us has a vision of the world during the war that belongs to us alone, and when we die that world dies with us. Others around us may share in parts of it, but no one will see it exactly as we do. Nor will all experience it in the same way, for they are living with their own vision of reality. My vision of reality is based upon my life experience, the influence of people, places, books, dreams, work, all the various aspects of my existence that make me the person I am.

There are many episodes, which I sense need to be told while those of us who survived are left to tell the stories. We in the 8th Air Force fought a different and unique war, which will never be repeated but opened the way for today’s Air Power.  The air war, which I was a part of, was only accomplished with the camaraderie, devotion, cooperation, and the daily confrontation of death for everyone.  We wouldn’t have survived without the dedication and support of our ground crews, plus the support of those at home who supplied us with the airplanes and other materials.  To me World War II was the last time the whole country came together and worked to accomplish the salvation of our way of life.

World War II was a struggle against tyranny, and a call for action. It was a portal we all passed through to achieve the kind of world we believed in. The history of mankind is not a series of accidents, nor a wayward tangle of happenstance and circumstances. There is a meaning in every event and there is a purpose. The very worst thing about war is that it brings out things, that in ordinary civilian life we make every effort to hide — hatred, violence, inhumanity, and cowardice. Many of us walked to death’s door every day, and too often it opened wide. Those of us who were spared to see another dawn on this earth had to face another day with the knowledge that we have opened death’s door to others.

We soon found war is not ever glorious, but cruel and unjust.
 
 

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