Remembering December 7 Lesson From a Personal Standpoint

As December 7 approaches it reminds me of my childhood experience.

I was about seven on December 7, 1941, and life changed for EVERYONE. War was much more cruel to those involved, but even back home nothing was the same — people left jobs to join the military, leaving a virtual female society, and many of them took the jobs men had left.

Everything was suddenly upside down! Food and gasoline were severely rationed, and everyone grew their own food gardens. It was the last war that impacted everyone!

Patriotism was the only thing in large supply — and by the age of nine, I was training on the streets of San Antonio, Texas, with a wooden rifle, in the Junior Yanks of America!

My education went from private boarding school to private MILITARY boarding schools — a Catholic Military Boarding School. (My family was dirt poor after I was orphaned by the age of five, but my mother had been the Executive Assistant to a Insurance Executive, and left money in Trust for my education. We lived in an apartment, my GrandMother and I, with no phone or car — but I lived relatively well in private schools.)

My life in Catholic Military School (I was a Protestant) for three years of war was completely isolated from what the civilian world was suffering. For reasons best known to the Sisters of Divine Providence, we had things civilians could not get…milk, butter, steak, etc. and our families never had to surrender our Ration Cards to eat.

Because I seldom left the confines of the school — my Grandmother knew I was better off under the Sisters and their discipline — I did not suffer nearly the deprivations of the rest of society, but few would think that I was exactly living well. Military schools are not exactly easy living!)

As the war was ending, I transferred to a Southern Baptist Military Boarding School (massive culture shock!), where my only relationship with the war was returning Vets, who were there to complete high school. I was then in the eighth and ninth grades, and I hope you can picture the cultural disruption of combat Veterans in a school competing for high school dates for the much younger, pretty girls against “wimpy” high school boys…

…and competing and playing on the football team with and against boys three and four years younger and far less physically fit and mature…

The disruption caused by the returning Vets only lasted a few years, but it was severe.

(The impact of staying in such military schools — a total of seven years — was that I was several academic years ahead, won First Congressional Nominations to West Point and Annapolis by age 15, and entered Trinity University as a Math Major at age 16, joined the U.S. Navy as an Enlisted Man at 17, and entered the U S Naval Academy at age 19.)

My favorite Cousin returned from the War with severe drinking problem, and soon committed suicide.

All wars have huge consequences.

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Faster Than A Speeding Bullet! Actually!

One of the few remaining print magazines I revere is Smithsonian Magazine. Yes, it has a liberal slant, covering (I would add “overemphasizing”) a lot of the underside of American history that is uncomfortable, but it also covers the subjects that one would expect of American pride.

My home has few photographs that grace the walls, but one is spectacular — it is called The Last Hot Flight, a photo of the SR.-71 Blackbird, the world’s fastest plane on its way from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. in less than two hours.

The Smithsonian this month celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the first flight…a test flight, to be certain. Placed in actual service in 1968, the Blackbird was, literally, faster than a speeding bullet and climbed higher than even missiles could reach!

That made the SR.-Blackbird impervious to ANYTHING that any of our potential enemies could ever counter, and flew anywhere it wished. Too expensive to maintain forever, they flew for decades without anyone knowing they existed.

But they remain in museums, the most beautiful machine that humans ever designed, and it’s records have never been erased by much more modern machinery!