Lily, with her friends Megan and Harold, learned the frustration of being "too young" to serve in the military and turned it into energy to scavenge the homefront for re-usable materials, put up with substitutes for sugar and meat, and practice songs that supported the troops. They knew what was going on because they listened to the radio, read newspapers, and went to movies that showed them what real war was like. And those memories lasted lifetimes. Children also bear the scars of war, more indelibly than grownups who are able to brush aside upheavals that occur to "somebody" "somewhere else" and not to them. World War II affected all of us in the United States, unlike most of the wars that followed. Now, in the 21st century, we barely notice who is fighting who. The children of Sherman Elementary School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, knew exactly what was going on around the world - because it affected them. Like children across the country, they took up battles they could fight and learned the frustrations and inanity of war. We kids collected paper metal, and rubber, got used to eating without real sugar, tropical fruit, and certain meats because their sources were in fighting zones or the food was required to feed "our troops." We made sure our parents followed safety guidelines (keeping night lights from shining out and maintaining emergency supplies of water in case of a bomb attack). And we talked about our brothers, fathers, and uncles who were fighting for us. War today is barely noticed unless a family member is involved. We listen to evening news with half an ear, reasoning that "it doesn't affect me." And Americans have not "wanted" for any products since 1945!
Val Dumond is a writer, editor, and book publisher who entered the writing profession as a young journalist, then ad copywriter, PR spokeswoman, and writing teacher. She has published five books about grammar, several novels mostly about exceptional women, and a few anthologies of short stories. Learn more at www.valdumond.com, Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn: Val Dumond.