Thursday, July 19, 2012

Living in the Past

History has overtaken the Fenwick household!  After tolerating about two and a half years of my immersion in newspapers from the 1880s and 1890s, my husband has discovered just how interesting reading old newspapers can be.  Last week, while I went through the old photographs available at the Stafford County Historical Museum in search of images that might be used in my book about Isaac, my husband joined me and began his own research from the Macksville Enterprise during the years of World War II.

Nearly every week's newspaper had a center front page section about the young men from Macksville (and occasionally a young woman) who were serving our country.  That generation is disappearing, and more than once since he began his research he has wished he had done it a few years ago when there were more veterans still living.  I am encouraging him to write about the interesting things he has found.  Maybe you will open my blog one week to discover a guest post from him!

So many Macksville men served in W.W. II, but there were also many who were given deferments to stay home and work the farms.  My father was one of those men, and I believe he always felt uncomfortable about not having served in the military.  He was very proud of my husband when Larry entered the Air Force after college. 

While Larry searched the information about the "Macksville boys in uniform," he found this interesting advertisement of the Community War Fund.

Published in the Macksville Enterprise October 26, 1944

The message reads: "Victory begins with the American farmer, working from long before sunset until long after nightfall.  Upon him falls the burden of feeding the fighting forces...the civilian population...and hungry mouths in war-torn countries."  It continues:  "Despite shortages of help and equipment, they have established records.  They have contributed mightily towards winning the war."

Having acknowledged the necessary role of those men whose military duty was deferred, the appeal for contributions to the War Fund was made.  "Now you are asked to help your fellow-men in another contribute money to give men in the armed forces needed recreation, to give books and sports equipment to prisoners of war, to give nerve-shattered men in the merchant marine a chance to recuperate.  To give unfortunate people abroad and at home a chance to have life, liberty, and happiness."

I don't know whether my father responded to this appeal, although I would hope that he did.  However, I do believe he always felt that others his age gave far more to the war effort than he did, some men he knew having given their lives. 

The first Memorial Day after we had rescued the farm house, we resumed the old tradition of hosting a family Decoration Day Dinner at the farm.  Before the meal we paused to remember those family members who had served in the military.  Three veterans were present, and among the other guests everyone had someone to remember--a husband, brother, son, father, or brother-in-law.  

Many of the original homesteaders in Isaac's community were veterans of the Civil War, and my husband and I can trace family roots back to the American Revolution.  In during the research about Isaac, I verified that some from this community served in the Spanish-American War, and many answered the call for World War I & II, Korea, and Southeast Asia.  Yet there were also those who stayed at home.  In a farming community, I found it very significant to discover that appreciation was shown to the young men who stayed on their farms during W.W. II. 


The Blog Fodder said...

My father was one of those who stayed home to farm as my grandfather's health was poor. Three of my uncles served.

Lynda Beck Fenwick said...

Two of my father's brothers-in-law served, and although what our fathers did was essential and did serve the war effort, the personal sacrifice was not comparable to the men their ages who suffered life-long injuries or who gave their lives. I think my father always felt that and had enormous respect for those who served in uniform. This was a difficult post to write--wanting to make clear that men who stayed to farm also served, without diminishing the sacrifice of the men who went to war, some of whom also never saw combat. Yet, every man served his country. Some were drafted, but others enlisted, and others did what was needed at home. But service to the country was seen then as a responsibility quite different from how it is viewed today, I believe.

Promote Lindsborg said...

My brother-in-law, Edward Baxter was one of the Macksville Boys who enlisted and served in WWII.

The Blog Fodder said...

But service to the country was seen then as a responsibility quite different from how it is viewed today, I believe.

That is because it is becoming more and more clear that the military no longer serves the country. It serves the American Empire which benefits the Transnational corporations and Military-Industrial Complex only while being paid for by the American taxpayer. Sorry. You can delete this if you want.

Bill Parker said...

My father stayed at home during WWI to help with the farm during that war, he was too old for WWII, but my uncle, Don Tillery, my brothers, S. D "Pat", and Dwane both served during WWII, as did my brother-in-law, Harold Pritchett. All gave to the cause in some way.
Bill Parker