THE VIEW FROM PLUM LICK
Reflections and remembrances
Martial music, rows of crosses spark war memories of sadness and celebration
Old Glory, Old Glory…the callow boy sang as he skipped from the school bus and ran down the lane to home.
Other World War II songs were ringing loud and clear: Off we go into the wild blue yonder, climbing high into the sun…and the Army keeps rolling along…From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli. We fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea…Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh…Until we meet once more. Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home.
The teenage boy was thinking:
Would he rather be smashed by a European tank or skewered by an Asian sword?
He voted for the tank.
WWII ended. Fate gave the boy a chance to live a full and happy life, one not without its opportunities to give thanks where it is due.
World War II is often still a troublesome bad dream. So is Vietnam. And the Korean Conflict. The Cold War, too.
So many didn’t come back. So many.
They lie beneath shining white crosses, row on row in military cemeteries across the Commonwealth.
Fast forward to July 2010.
Letters come in on the birthday month of the United States of America. Betty writes: “This letter is a response to the ‘Military Memories’ article in Kentucky Living. I have a friend, Barbara, who immigrated to the United States from Germany. She has a story about one of the children who were given candy bars.
“At the end of the war in Berlin, there was a time of great confusion. As the armies advanced on Berlin, all kinds of information preceded the Allies. The Germans were worried about what would happen to Berlin. First the Russians came to her sector of Berlin, looting, raping, terrorizing the civilians.”
A postscript from Barbara: “How different their initial meeting with the Americans…Not a soldier jumped off the truck to threaten or steal rings and watches but gave candy and smiles.”
Annaliese remembers: “Close to my home was a small park. Every few days, American troops would stop for a rest break. As an 18-year-old, I would gather the small, half-starved neighborhood children and we would greet the soldiers. As ‘reward’ we received heavenly ‘treasures,’ chew gum, an apple, chocolate, leftover food.”
Martha takes the time to write: “I remember the soldiers on the troop trains when I was about 10 years old. I hope (my presence) brought back some cheer to at least one of the soldiers.”
Yes, we have our imperfections—Afghanistan and Iraq—but there’s no place we’d rather be living than in the Commonwealth of Kentucky—especially on Plum Lick.
As the row on row of crosses, each with its own remembrances, gleams in summer sun, music of the decades echoes along the lanes to a more peaceful home.
Anchors Aweigh, my boys!