The year was 1945. My dad was drafted shortly after graduating from High School. He was being trained as an infantryman for the invasion of Japan when the war ended. He was re-trained as an MP and served as part of the occupation force in Germany. He came home got a job as an auto mechanic and got on with his life marrying my mom in 1952.
My mom was three years younger so in 1945 she was working in a Catholic hospital in upstate Wisconsin. Mom’s family was “dirt poor” literally. Potatoes were her favorite food since often times it was all they had. After the war she hung around upstate Wisconsin before moving to Milwaukee in 1950. Her first job was according to mom in a “stinky tannery” along the Milwaukee River
My wife’s father was a little older than my dad and he was drafted in 1943. He was trained as an Army medic and served in the follow-up forces that set-up hospitals in New Guinea after that island had been wrestled from the Japanese by the Americans and Australians. There he contracted dengue fever. Pictures of him from that time frame show a skinny kid in need of some healthy and plentiful food. Eventually, he was sent home toward the end of the war. He ended up at a military hospital in Washington State where he met my mother-in-law.
My mother-in-law was from mid-state Wisconsin and she had enlisted as a W.A.C. (Women’s Army Corps) in 1945. She was trained at Fort Oglethorpe, GA and send to the military hospital in Washington where she met my father-in-law. Although my father-in-law was from Cleveland the couple married in Milwaukee and got on with their lives. My father-in-law worked in a machine shop before having a long career at a department store (Gimbles) and then Milwaukee Country. My mother-in-law worked for many years as a nurses’ aide (now called CNA’s).
There is nothing particularly remarkable about these four depression era, WW2 era people or their stories. They were children during the Depression and grew into their teens during the war and all did what they could to win that war. When it was finished, they got on with their lives not ever complaining about how their lives were interrupted by the poverty of the Depression or the hardships associated with the war.
One of the things they all had in common was a work ethic. They worked and they worked and they saved and struggled and when they had enough money they bought their own homes. They made the payments through thick and thin and tried to give their kids a better life than what they had (five kids between the two families). It wasn’t easy for them and like most families they had their struggles of various types.
What has struck me as odd, odd in light of the present, but certainly not odd for them in their time is that both sets of parents leaned Democrat, my wife’s parent’s a bit more so.
It’s not surprising since President Roosevelt was credited as getting us out of the Depression and leading the nation during the war years (not debatable). They were, although not official Democrats, Roosevelt Democrats for most of their lives.
And they were all Catholics although my father and my mother-in-law had made a switch to Catholicism from Lutheranism. They all voted for John Kennedy in 1960 and part of the reason was he was Catholic and a Democrat.
By the time I met my wife in High School they had worked hard over the intervening years, taking few vacations, saving what they could for their retirement and never expecting a government handout except for the expectation of SSI when they retired and the veteran’s benefits they earned while in service. That’s it. It was an attitude along with a work solid work ethic they passed on to their children. My wife and I both had jobs at age 16 and thought nothing of it. It simply was what you did to learn personal responsibility.
My parents made a painful decision for them in 1984. They voted for Ronald Reagan and his second term. It was not that they liked Reagan. It was that they disliked what the Democrats had become, in particular, the abortion on demand party. The issue had bugged them since 1973 but it took until 1984 for people to fully realize the ramifications of Roe v Wade.
My parents were what were called “Reagan Democrats” as if memory serves me my wife’s parents were too even if I do not remember the exact reasons.
One thing that neither set of parents could not grasp was the growing sense of entitlements, that is, the receiving of benefits without having to work them. I’m not talking about charity here but the idea that someone could game the system at the expense of someone else and never have to work or produce a darn thing. As people who worked all their lives it simply was an alien concept that made them more and more suspicious of the Democrat Party.
Our parents would have laughed Sandra Fluke right off the stage at the DNC and would have been horrified to learn that the party of Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy had actually voted God out of the party platform before putting him back in. None of them are alive to witness where the country is headed but I’m sure they would not approve.
I think we are at a tipping point. The responsible, both Democrat and Republican are close to being out-numbered by people who expect something for nothing. People like Sandra Fluke, a professional student at age 31 who seems to think the rest of us owe her birth control. If she was an isolated case, it would be laughable, but she is not as millions just like her look to the government to be their sugar daddy never realizing, or caring, that the government is funded by the working.
I had to laugh at Bill Clinton’s line that the idea of “we are all in this together” is better than “you are on your own.” What he meant was we’re all in together because the responsible are funding an ever larger contingency of the irresponsible.
You are on your own, used to mean you did what you could. Perhaps the Democrat John F. Kennedy said it best, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
Our parents could vote for a Democrat like that. They would never vote for Democrat who said something as stupid as “you didn’t build that.”
And that’s the way I see it.
- It’s the not your parent’s party anymore! (broeder10.wordpress.com)
- In tribute to the tea party (politico.com)