In conclusion…

November 28, 2009

Blogging has been an interesting, educational, and eye-opening experience for me. Now that the semester is coming to a close, this blog assignment is also coming to a close. I’ve learned a lot from this experience. Not just about how to be a “blogger”, but I’ve also learned a lot about the military and how it affects all of us in one way or another.

Over the last few months, I’ve read a book of WWI poetry, a few different memoirs, a graphic novel on the Holocaust, and some other interesting novels. Novels that I would not have normally given a second glance at while wandering through the book store. But, I actually really enjoyed reading most of them. Currently our class is reading Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, which is a book of short stories from the Vietnam War. All of these well-known pieces of literature have quite a few things in common. One of them being that they teach us a little about the part the United States played in world history. The books have also shown us how war affects not just the people involved in the war, but their families too.

The purpose of my blog was to educate myself and others about a topic that I find to be very important: military families.  After reading books from past wars and reading many different blogs by military spouses and children I’ve learned that wars have impacted people just as much back then as they do now, and in similar ways. Hopefully people involved in the military can take past experiences and use them to make these difficult times a little bit easier for themselves and their families.

 

I came across a blog post while reading through different military blogs in my google reader account.  This particular post came from Spouse Buzz Talk Radio. I found it interesting because it reminded me of Since You Went Away, the book of letters written by wives,  mothers, and friends to their soldiers fighting in WW II. The different letters in the book were each crafted in their own unique way, they were also preserving a part of history.  A letter from Renee in Rhode Island reads:

“The phone rang about 10 minutes ago. It was your mother. She told me the Invasion had started. I just put on the radio and this time it’s real. I don’t quite know what to say, Sweetheart. It goes without saying that I feel very nervous and afraid. I do feel though, that you weren’t in this first wave”. (87)

The post on Spouse Buzz talked about how the U.S Army has implemented a new way for families at home to communicate with their loved ones overseas. This new form of communication is called Hooah and is much quicker than traditional letter writing.  The blog post explains it like this:

“Here’s how it works: Family and friends set up an account via HOOAH MAIL and enter the recipient’s information and downrange mailing address. With the push of the “send” button, encrypted letters are sent to the servers of designated machines in one of 10 locations in Afghanistan. At least once a day, Army postal clerks switch on the machines, which print, fold and seal the letters in addressed envelopes for delivery through the in-country military postal system”.

Recently in my college english class we were debating about how easy it is, or is not going to be to preserve letters written to and from soldiers.  With technology continuously advancing, some of my fellow classmates felt that the art of letter writing is slowly being phased out and being replaced by e-mails and Facebook posts. Others thought that no matter what, people will save their e-mails so they can have them for future generations to read. 

The class way pretty much split on the answer, but after reading the blog post I thought that this would be a great way for soldiers to get letters almost instantly (one of the perks of e-mails) while being able to  have something to save and read whenever they need to be reminded of their loved ones. These letters will also be a way to preserve part of our world history while giving future generations a way to read about  their family history too. Maybe one day these letters will be compiled and turned into a book similar to Since You Went Away.

Full Article

 

Communication

November 23, 2009

Recently, I read the book Since You Went Away for my college english class. The book is a compilation of letters written by women to their husbands, sons, brothers, and friends who were fighting in WW II. After reading the book I couldn’t help but notice how much some things have changed in the last 60+ years, and how some things will probably never change 60+ years from now.  The roles of women have changed, the military has gone through some changes, and the way we communicate with each other is different too. Despite these changes, our emotions and love for our family and friends will always remain the same. 

During WW II wives and mothers would sit down and write to their loved ones while they were gone. In their letters, they would talk about their jobs, their children, and every detail of their day, right down to the grocery bills and the laundry. The letters from the book, Since You Went Away were all very different from each other. Some were funny, some of them were very informative, and some were even sad. But all of the letters were creatively crafted and overflowing with love and hopes of their soldier returning home soon. One of the letters written by Evelyn Alvey in December of 1944 reads:

“…Remember that this is positively our first and last Christmas that we aren’t going to be together. Think of all we have had, and just think of all we have to look forward to- years of happiness, and each year better than the last.” (108)

There is a different war going on now. We are still communicating with our loved ones while they are overseas, but it is a little different then before.  Letters today are still full of mundane everyday details but they are also still written with love and hope, the only difference is that now they are quickly typed out and instantly e-mailed to their soldiers. I came across an article from The Huntsville Times that has a similar viewpoint.

  The written word, whether it is placed on paper or typed electronically, has a certain power to it, for unlike those spoken and then lost in a breeze, words written can be retained forever and tend to spring forth from within a writer’s most reliable inkwell, the heart.

The article goes on to say…

The tools of war have changed much over the years, but the soldier that wields them is still the man and woman missing the touch and connection of home and all that it means ?family, friends and happier times.

Personally, I don’t think it matters how we communicate with our loved ones while they are serving in the military, just as long as we keep doing it. The support, love, and optimism in our letters is what keeps the soldiers going during the war.

Full Article

Comments Post (updated)

October 30, 2009

Comment 1     http://warsoftheworld.wordpress.com/2009/10/28/overcompensation-trying-to-right-past-wrongs/

Comment 2     http://warvspeace.wordpress.com/2009/10/26/tell-the-story/

Comment 3     http://genawh.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/man-vs-beast/

Comment 4     http://swanderc.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/guilt-ridden/

Comment 5     http://olsonkr.wordpress.com/2009/10/24/pure-ignorance/

Comment 6     http://winegarl.wordpress.com/2009/10/07/can-a-soldier-just-walk-away/

Comment 7     http://thebore44.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/the-truth-behind-a-smile/

Comment 8     http://genawh.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/59/

Comment 9     http://thebore44.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/times-have-changed/

Comment 10  http://warvspeace.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/final-post/

The last few weeks my english class has been reading literature about the Holocaust.  So far, we’ve watched documentaries and read the graphic novel, Maus. Now we are reading Survival in Auschwitz a memoir by Holocaust survivor, Primo Levi. In his book, Levi re- lives the gruesome details of his time within the concentration camp. 

After reading parts of this book, I can’t believe how strong Primo Levi, and the other prisoners of the camps had to be. They were beaten, deprived of food, and trapped in the most disgusting living situation imaginable. There is no possible way I would have been able to live through that, and most people did not. Levi writes,

“We Italians had decided to meet every Sunday evening in a corner of the Lager, but we stopped it at once because it was too sad to count our numbers and find fewer each time, and to see each other even more deformed and more squalid” (24).

Years later the few who survived the holocaust moved on as best they could.  They healed, they grew older, and they had families.  Some have passed on and some are still alive, still trying to forget the past and live in the present.  But now, 64 years after Primo Levi and other Auschwitz survivors were freed, they have another problem to face.

I came across an article today in the New York Times. The article was about Israeli Jews who survived the Holocaust having a higher risk for cancer. 

“But the researchers found that Jews who spent World War Two in Europe were at least 17 percent more likely to develop cancer than those who left before or during the war.

The results are important, the researchers said, because many Jews who survived World War Two in Europe were also victims of the Holocaust — the systematic state-sponsored persecution and murder of about 6 million Jews by Germany’s Nazi regime and its collaborators”.

It’s devastating for anyone to be diagnosed with this disease, but it seems so unfair that the people who have already suffered through something as horrific as the Holocaust are not done suffering. Haven’t they been through enough already?

Full Article 

 

 

Pictures are everywhere. There are pictures in photo albums, pictures in  story books, there are even pictures on huge billboards on the highway and pictures in the newspaper.  In their own way, these different picture tell a story.  Whether the picture is an advertisement for a new product or a story on the front page of your local newspaper, there is a lot to be told.

In my english class we finished reading Art Spiegelman’s Maus I, My Father Bleeds History and Maus II, And Here My Troubles Begin.  Both are graphic novels (something I have never read before) and both are less than 170 pages each(also a plus).  It is amazing how much information you can get from just pictures!  In these books, the drawings were simple and the language was easy to comprehend. If Maus were a regular novel it probably would have easily been 500 pages and not nearly as interesting. 

Whenever I hear about the Holocaust I think about my junior year of high school. I was fortunate enough to be able to go on a field trip to Washington D.C.  One of the stops on our field trip was the Holocaust Museum.  Out of all the tourist attractions in our nation’s capitol, The Lincoln Memorial, The Tomb of the Unknown Solider, Arlington National Cemetary, and so on, the Holocaust museum was, by far, the most eye opening and heart wrenching  thing to experience.  I couldn’t believe how a picture or an exhibit could create so many emotions in the people who were walking through the hallways. There was so much history and so many stories that were being told within the walls of that museum.

 It’s been a little over 8 years since that field trip and I wish I remembered more about it.  To jog my memory, I spent quite a bit of time on the Holocaust Museum’s website. link It’s not the same as being there, but there are a lot of pictures of the exhibits that are in the museum. Now that I am a little older and know a little more on the topic, I would really like to go back to the museum and see everything from a different perspective.

Pictures really are worth a thousand words.  The pictures in Maus and the images I remember from the Holocaust museum tell a story, and some of them give a voice to someone who no longer has one.  It is important that we share these stories with our families, especially children, so they can learn from it and prevent something as horrific as the Holocaust from happening again.

Reflecting on History

October 21, 2009

This particular post is not necessarily related to military families as much as it is related to families in general. Each family has their own history and their own stories to share.  I think it is important to take a little time to reflect on some of the stories we have heard to realize how far we have come over time.

Within the past 6 months, both of my grandparents passed away. It’s never easy to deal with the death of a loved one, but both of my grandparents were in their mid eighties with a long list of health problems. My family and I have been prepared for it, but just because you know something is coming, it doesn’t make it any easier. Death, and waiting for it,  is never easy.
When someone you are close to is gone you can’t help but think about the life that they lived. I can’t help but think about the life my grandparents lived and everything they had to go through in the 80+ years they were on this earth. The Great Depression, World War 2, the first steps on the moon, and our current financial troubles are just a few of the  monumental and historic events my grandparents lived through.

In my college english class, we are discussing the Holocaust.  This is, without a doubt, one of the most horrific and gruesome events in history, but it is also something we should all know a little about.  While trying to learn a little more about this topic I came across a website  that I found helpful.  It is one thing for us to look at a website, watch a film or read a book about the Holocaust, but we can never feel  the pain and terror those people had to go through.

In my english class, we are reading Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel,  Maus.  This is a story within a story of a Jewish Holocaust survivor, Vladek, and his son Art.  In Maus I Vladek tells his son about his terrifying experience as a prisoner during the Holocaust and how he survived.   He told his son how his family lost their home and were forced out of Poland and into camps to wait for death. Eventually, Art took the stories his father told him and turned them into books. These books are something that Art can pass down to his family and future generations to teach them about their family history.