Several years after I retired (1974) the Internet had grown sufficiently and I subscribed to what became AOL. I joined an online ‘social’ group of older adults; time passed. One day, the group received an email from a middle school teacher in a northeastern state. She wrote that her students were working on a class project about the United States involvement in World War II; the project’s scope included the ‘home front’.
It was clear, the teacher wrote, that the youngsters wanted to learn directly from those who had served in the nation’s wartime Armed Forces and the Merchant Marine; students also searched for information about civilian war workers on the home front who had produced, serviced, and transported weapons and supplies from where they were made to where they were used. The students wanted to hear from people who cared for the wounded and helped in other ways. The teacher invited stories, vignettes and memoirs from older Americans who had lived through those times.
The teacher kept us informed; the memoirs, vignettes, etc., that were received had generated questions among the students. The result was a Q&A exchange conducted in follow-up email. At the class project’s conclusion, the teacher reported to the electronic community that the project had been a great success: the students had learned history from those who had lived it. The storytellers, many of whom were, like me, long retired, had an audience for reminiscences that might not otherwise have surfaced. Together with the students, they built a bridge from the 1940s to the 1990s and, in doing so, had contributed to the historical records of an important era in American history. The experience enhanced communications and respect across the generations.
I had emailed tech data and vignettes to the students about my wartime work as a parachute rigger and maintenance technician on various types of survival and escape-and-evasion equipment . I would set the stage with the equipment’s background, purpose, inspection and other steps toward actual use, for example, the parachute: to lower a weight, that is, a person or a cargo, slowly and safely from a place in the sky to a place on the ground. In time of war, the one-way trip down might be aircrews that were forced to abandon their airplanes because the craft could no longer remain airborne. During World War II, tens of thousands of airborne soldiers and marines parachuted from transport aircraft with their weapons as part of military operations. At least equal in numbers, cargo parachutes lowered food, weapons, and other essential supplies and equipment to the fighting forces and to isolated civilian communities. Parachutes also have a wide range of uses in peacetime, for instance, emergency escapes from disabled aircraft and other airborne systems, to slow an aircraft on the runway after a high-speed landing, sport parachuting, ‘fire jumpers’ in fighting forest fires, rescues in terrain that lacks easier access, and more.
Others among us wrote about their personal involvement: nurses, welders, law enforcement, teachers, truck drivers, sewing machine operators, land and sea transport workers, managers and technicians on anything and everything. The experience led me to write vignettes, essays and memoirs about my ‘involvement’ post WW2 and they are part of American lore somewhere online.
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Memoir: Military-Civilian Teamwork in Suicide Prevention
In preparation for Blogger
Suicide Prevention is Everybody’s Business
Memoirs: Hot War-Cold War, Back-of-the-lines-logistics
Fix and Prevent Mistakes and Deficiencies in the Workplace
Grandma! Grandpa! Write Stories To Me!
Meyer Moldeven (Mike)