Sunday, August 1, 2010

The World Was At War: Why WWII?

The year was 1998, I think, I was 21. The nation was responding to Steven Spielberg’s latest film. Trying his skilled hands at World War II, joining up with Tom Hanks and historian Steven Ambrose to produce what became one of the most successful films dealing with the war. I'm of course talking about 'Saving Private Ryan'. In hind sight I feel it's contemporary 'Thin Red Line' is a much more thoughtful, philosophic picture then 'Ryan' but, it was 'Ryan' that opened my eyes.

I remember waiting a bit before seeing 'Ryan'. At the time I though Spielberg’s historic pieces a bit cheesy and pretentious; 'Amistad', and 'Schindler’s List' (although I hadn't seen it at the time, HA). I now think that they're amazing and great pieces to add to the cultural lexicon. So I gave it a bit before watching 'Ryan'. And when I did I thought my predictions would come true. The movie opens with an old man and his family at Arlington, Christ Steven. And it's awkward and the old man is super upset and in the zone, man, heart strings. Boom Flashback, and the movie proper. Immediately my mind and insolence was silenced. Right away there was something in the contrasty color correction, the grit. The distant beach littered with flames, rolling with smoke. The men in the Higgins boats; grim, dirty, shaking, not the cookie cutter G. I.s from older WWII films, although there are quite a few super excellent films from back in the day, don't get me wrong. And then they hit the beaches. The next 30 minutes or whatever literally change my life. It's kinda lame to admit that 'Saving Private Ryan' changed my life. And maybe it would have happened with something else, at some other time, but it didn't. Just how did it change my life, please allow me to explain.

Growing up in the 80s and 90s didn't teach me a whole lot about 'The Big One'. Honestly at the time, what I knew about the global conflict that plunged the world into war for 6 years (more in you count Japan's hostilities with China since the early 30s) was; Nazi's were bad, they wrecked Europe, killed Ann Frank and 5,999,999 other Jewish people. Ummm...Hitler was crazy. Ummm....D-Day was awesome...hmmmmm.....we nuked Japan twice.......ummm....Churchill was fat and smoked cigars......hmmm......the cold war started after it. Really that was it. And watching the raw, unflinching footage of the D-Day sequence in 'Ryan' blew my mind. Something about it made me finally ask, “how did that happen and why?”. Thus began my unending research and study of The Second World War. This spark of curiosity has lead to many periods of history since then, but the primary focus has always been 'The Big One'.

Why? WWII was over 50 years ago, at that time. America has had like 3 major wars and a bunch of smaller ones since. My own father served in Vietnam. Why not study that. Or Korea, that situation was intense, we had dudes in jets fighting Chinese dudes in jet, sweet right? No. There's something about WWII, obviously I see it now, but in 1998 I had to know why. Why did it happen? How did it happen? Who all was involved? Where did it take place? What was the result? The answer to these questions and others is what I plan to share with you in these articles. I've spent the past ten years looking into it. And let me tell you, even without getting all conspiracy on you, just sticking to the facts, your heart will ache. But at the same time there was a necessity to it, it was human culture to the extreme. Hope fear, struggle for resources, racism, genocide, honor, duty, and tyranny was stopped cold in its tracks. But as they say there are no happy endings. And well, we live in the aftermath, you tell me. But I'm not claiming to be wise enough to pass moral judgment on anyone or any country (besides Nazi Germany, I plan on lighting them up), I cannot speak to the political ramifications. I will speak military strategies, I will talk about individuals of note, enlighten you on lesser known events, mysteries, and other bizarre stories. Trust me I'll keep it real, I'm not Alex Jones, and I'm not talking about any Illuminati nonsense. I'd rather talk about how during World war II racism in the US army was both at its strongest, and also had huge leaps forward in desegregation. Or how dope Britain's radar was. Or how much Eisenhower smoked during the European Campaign. That's true, I can site sources, and be real about. The conspiracy stuff is just entertainment if you can't back it up ya know. But it's great entertainment, so maybe I'll bring some up sometimes.

Until next time, fellow arm-chairs, this has been John Henry reporting for The Buddy Times. Remember, history doesn't HAVE to repeat itself. Peace.


  1. Good introduction, I will be eagerly awaiting further posts to discover your point of view and what nuggets you may have uncovered that I have missed. I consider myself quite knowledgable on WW2, have spent a lot of time studying it - but in such an all-encompassing subject over such a time span, I doubt even the greatest historians could say there isn't a story out there that they do not yet know.

  2. I'll be posting probably on Sunday, so stay tuned. Yes indeed, there is so much to learn, some many events, and situations. What I find most interesting is putting myself in the shoes of who ever I'm studying. What would it have been like to be at a Nazi parade? or Stalingrad, or to watch the slow unstoppable advance of the Panzers across the Russian steppe, as they approached your home.


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