Brimfield, Ohio, is a very small town. It was where my father was born, and where I was born. It has pretty much been swallowed up by the larger communities that surround it, but when my father was a young man it was just a few hundred farmers and their families.
Nevertheless, he knew two boys who died during the D-Day invasion. He remembers the gold stars in the windows.
He enlisted shortly after the Second World War ended. He was pretty sure the draft was going to be reinstated, and he was only pumping gas at the filling station anyway, so he thought he’d go ahead and get it over with.
He ended up having his enlistment extended by a year when the Korean War broke out. He didn’t go overseas himself– he was a mechanic in El Paso– but he had a friend who died over there. To this day, if you mention Douglas MacArthur to him you’ll get a long lecture that ends with, “and they should have hanged the son-of-a-bitch as a war criminal, for all the carnage he caused.”
He was resigned to the Vietnam War, neither supporting nor opposing it, at the beginning. He had come to think of war as as one of life’s constant but unavoidable miseries. It was just One of Those Things.
Eventually, though, he came to actively oppose it.
And every war that came after it.