Saturday, September 19, 2020

September 19, 1945

Fort Benning, Georgia in summer 1945: my dad taught map-reading in preparation for the expected invasion of Japan.  Then came Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Japanese surrender.

75 years ago today, in a chapel on the Alabama side of Fort Benning, my parents were married, only seventeen (17) days after the Japanese Emperor surrendered and World War II ended.   

When the Fort Benning military base's Roman Catholic priest said, "I now pronounce you man and wife, some of my father's noisy, noisome 82nd Airborne Divn. buddies celebrated with .50 caliber machine gun fire from both sides of the church.  

Mom and her bridesmaid, her sister, hit the deck. 

People said it "would not last."

America in 1945 was a divided place.

My mom was from Irish-German immigrant stock, while my father was 100% Polish.  

People on both "sides" said it was a "mixed marriage," and that it would "never last."  

58 years of happiness ensued. Their only child (me) finally arrived in 1957, only twelve years later, after invoking St, Jude (patron saint of hopeless causes). 

My parents met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at a Catholic dance, circa 1940.   (Mom went to retrieve her handbag, which she had earlier left under a seat, upon which my father sat when she went to retrieve it).

Their life was like a comedy act, and they passed their passions on to me, their only son. 

Dad was a patriot who volunteered for military service the day after Pearl Harbor. Dad machine-gunned Nazis, 1942-1944.  

After the War ended and after the machine-gun fire, my parents' honeymoon was in Atlanta.  Segregated Atlanta.  

Mom remembered working three days in a segregated restaurant in Atlanta to earn the money to pay her railroad fare back hone to Philadelphia

My told me about how African-Americans were not seated in the restaurant, and had to go to the kitchen. door to buy meals  She saw American Apartheid first-hand.  She shared her disgust of it with me.  So did my father, who was delighted when his 82nd Airborne Divn. desegregated,  

Like the Founders of our Nation, my parents were "liberals." They all colored  ny view when I told off the South African charge-de-affaires at Georgetown University in 1974, as a freshman.  Two fellow students said, "You can't say that."  I responded, "I just did." 

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