- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 11, 2002

On this day of national assessments Have we changed? Are we prepared? Will it be war? Are we up to it? we thought it might be useful to briefly reflect on the way we were 60 years ago on the home front. Most Americans have no personal recollection of World War II. But our image of Americans in that now faraway time has grown so lustrous that many younger Americans may wonder whether we can match their courage and dedication.

So, it is worth recalling that, during World War II, Hollywood's patriotic film-making constantly referred to shortcomings on the home front. Between 1942 and 1945, Hollywood films had to constantly remind the movie-going public not to be slackers in home-front efforts and not to cheat on the rationing system. Civilian men and particularly women had to be re-motivated to give up their regular routines and work in war factories. The movies showed GIs overseas receiving Dear John letters, wherein they were told that their sweethearts were leaving them for another. These movie themes rang true to the moviegoers of those days. Harry S. Truman rose to prominence holding Senate hearings on corporate war-profiteering and shoddy work on war products. It didn't start with Enron.

World War II may have been the good war, fought by the greatest generation, but we should not judge ourselves wanting, for failure to live up to the imagined perfection of our parents and grandparents good as they were, and are. Even in those halcyon days, there were cowards and cheats, slackers and self-promoters, the lazy and the foolish. But despite that, most Americans pitched in and got the job done.

The essential virility of the American character was on view for all to see a year ago today. And notwithstanding the sensitive advice that we should seek closure and healing, what the vast majority of Americans want are vengeance and victory.


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