Donald Trump’s campaign slogan was Make America Great Again. Again like when, he was asked. The good ole ‘80’s Reagan years? Nope, Trump was thinking about the ‘50’s.
A Trip To The WWII Museum
One of the things that I’ve never tired of knowing more about is WWII. On a recent trip to the museum in New Orleans I was open to an ah-hah moment, some loose dots connecting.
We didn’t want any part of that war. Europe, all those little countries, they’ve been warring since the fall of the Roman Empire, and just can’t seem to get it solved. Not only were we resistant to being pulled in but we were unprepared. A tank war was coming, and we still had horse cavalry. In 1939 our military was smaller than Portugal, a country about as big as Indiana.
Pearl Harbor was the Great Unifier. That’s one of the things about WWII, it’s just soooooo plain ‘n simple, about right ‘n wrong. I can’t think of a single war that had less gray (even the Civil War). It started with a sucker punch, at Pearl Harbor, and if there was any doubt we were on God’s good guy side, that was all resolved the minute we started finding the concentration camps…
There was a clear goal – now that you’ve started it, we’re not stopping until we win. Complete, unconditional surrender – we’ll just keep coming until we peel the onion to the layer says No More. (We have not had that, in neither war nor conflict, since then…)
Indeed it was Total War. The tip of the spear was Over There, but the great mass of citizens Over Here were either a hive of bees or a mound of ants (pick your favorite), in unified motion. Whether you were making a bullet or punching rivets on a plane, you were part of the Great Purpose, and whatever you were doing was For Someone, making a bullet for a hometown boy, sewing a blanket for your brother the paratrooper, skimping on driving so there’d be more fuel for Patton’s tanks to shorten the war.
And Then Its Over
Tombstones, wheelchairs, and minds never right again…but on the other hand…
…we didn’t ask for it, but we finished it…we didn’t know we had it in us, but we proved out, indeed We (yes capital letters!) saved the civilized world, our little baby country, we hicks from the sticks, we had it in us, and when the test came, we were More Than Enough…
…and that’s the psychology of America in the post war 1950’s…it’s: 1) self respect; 2) a shared giant feat; 3) confidence, as individuals, as a People and; 4) unity… we fought as one, we won as one, let’s get back to regular life and living, as one…
The 1950’s And They’re Calling Us A Superpower
Imagine what being a “superpower” does to the self image of the citizenry. We were a young country, grandchildren of our Founding Fathers were still alive!, all we farmers, and laborers, all we outhouser’s and barefoot-ers…a country of mules, been plowing a row for all these generations, and suddenly – the world looks upon us like we’re Kentucky Derby winners, Man O’ War!
We wanted no more of war. A great, healthy, undamaged America (no battles here, no bombings here) welcomed us back to regular life, families and jobs, and the American Dream…now bigger…
Ford built its last car in 1942. From then on, it only built materiel for the war. The war now over, factories undamaged, jobs plentiful, wages good… marry a sweetheart, buy a first home, make some babies, get old together, die and go to heaven…
There may be mythology about Amazon women, but in the history of mankind, even pre-history, we’ve been aligned on a patriarchal social model. We want a Father in heaven; we want a father in our house; and we want a father in charge of the nation. That’s just the way it is.
Our most divisive president was Lincoln. In my lifetime the two most divisive presidents are This one and the Last one. That’s just the way it’s played out.
But…imagine America in the 50’s…
We have order, prosperity, and running the whole shebang is the safest, most trusted president since Washington, Eisenhower.
He was the Father of the military, and now he was the Father of America, proven, trusted, watching out for the boogie man, so all over America, parents tucked their children to sleep, and then went to sleep themselves, tucked in by the notion that real competence was on duty in the White House.
The Wheel Keeps Turning
The 50’s are long gone. They weren’t perfect (civil rights, minorities, McCarthyism, conformity) but where they got it right, was a fine flavor of right. There must be a certain blessing ‘n curse to have lived it, and now lived long enough to see America become the red hot mess it is today.
It’s all part of the mysterious cycle, growth and change, decay and change, change for the sake of change, but for one blink of a decade, in one blessed country on this blue planet, there were a people who saw a garden bloom, one country putting on a great spring of flowers…and they were part of it…
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This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is brought to you by Eighty-one, where we like our living to be like our footsteps, one from where we were, one to where we’re going.
Other Bedtime Stories can be found on the Eighty-one Facebook page. Uncle P can be reached at email@example.com.