Who were your heroes when you were a kid? During my growing up years, from early childhood, all of the kids on our street lived in a world of make-believe. We played outdoors and we played pretend. I think we were pretty good at it. Did I mention that we took our play seriously?
One of our favorite games was playing soldier. My dad had been a soldier and I guess at some level my brothers and I wanted to be like him. Of course, it was long before we met him, but he came back from WWII with a German helmet and a German dagger. We had seen those things. In addition, his Army uniform was in his closet. We had seen that, too. We wanted to be like him.
I am not sure how our lives would have been impacted had we been born prior to WWII and dad been separated from us while serving in the armed forces. Of course, ours was a different world back then. News of what was taking place on foreign fronts was limited to the newspapers and radio. In addition, there was confidence that what was being shared via the airwaves was filtered through truth and responsible reporting. Personal communication with loved ones was through written letters that could be weeks in arriving. Apart from that, there was a shroud of silence.
For the past couple of years, I’ve followed a blog entitled Pacific Paratrooper written by G P Cox along with about 5,000 other readers. He really has a lot of followers who regularly read his blog. I occasionally make a written response to what the author has shared. He, in turn, occasionally makes a written response to something I’ve written in my blog. I am proud to think of him as a friend though we’ve never met. Our only communication has been electronic. I always smile when I see he has “liked” something I’ve written. I suspect the same is true for him. I sense that in a lot of respects we have much in common as baby boomers.
G P Cox has effectively chronicled the annals of history and brought news from WWII to the computer screens of many who are descendants of those WWII veterans who served from an environment of imminent peril. Often his blogs includes letters written by those in harms way back to their families in the United States. Reading the personal letters make it easy to imagine how the news of what’s being shared was received by a mother or father or other close family member.
I have such respect for the families of those who currently serve in harm’s way in our military. I’ve seen first hand the courage and valor required of my grandchildren and their mother when Craig was separated from his family and in the midst of things he chooses not to talk about. Unlike WWII, children of those serving today have a lot more information available to them. Sometimes I think the shroud of silence may have been easier. It re-enforces the concept: “No news is good news”.
Getting back to my childhood, when we were playing soldier, it worked best and it seemed more real when we dug foxholes in the back yard. It didn’t cost anything and all you needed was a shovel to make it happen. I guess it goes without saying, “We sometimes got into a lot of trouble for messing up the yard?” It definitely proved to be a circumstance where forgiveness may not have been easier to obtain than permission, if you get my drift.
It also made the game of pretend more real if we actually engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Just in case you’re wondering, I’m a lot tougher than I look. For the record, I still am. Without fail, my twin brother and I both wanted to be Audie Murphy. He was a real war hero. Of course, we had gone with our dad to see the movie “To Hell and Back”. Seeing the movie is all it took. At the age of eight, we wanted to be like Audie Murphy and we talked the talk and fought the fight in the world of make-believe.
As a side note, sometimes I think it would be great to be eight-years-old again. I mean, after all, you never consider the possibility that just because you can’t do it now, doesn’t mean that someday you can’t. In the midst of adulthood, reality has a way of limiting your perception of the kinds of adventure available. When you are eight years old, anything is possible.
We played pretend because we wanted to be like the people who were our heroes. We wanted their life to be our life. We wanted their endeavors to be our endeavors. From the vantage point of childhood, their accomplishments could become ours. Sure, we were in a world of make-believe, but if they could make it work, so could we. Besides that, were we all taught from early on, “You can be anything you want to be?” Isn’t that the mindset of how you grew up as well?
Isn’t that still the American dream? Isn’t it the idea that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative? It is easy to latch on to that concept as children. We all think we have the stuff it takes to be successful and achieve the things we dare dream about.
So who is top dog? Don’t we all at one time or another anticipate being at the top of the leader board? Isn’t filling that role at least a passing dream we’ve all entertained at some point in our lives? Doesn’t the person at the top of the leader board generally garner more respect or attention? Don’t we all ideally think we at least have the potential?
- Doesn’t the president of the bank automatically have more clout than the college student who is a part time teller?
- Doesn’t the owner of the restaurant have a much higher level of income than the waiter who waits the tables?
- Isn’t the coach of the team more important than the student manager?
- I was pastor of a church once were one of the members owned an oil company. She lived elsewhere, but when she came back to visit (she did often) everyone in the church treated her as though she was Royalty. Don’t get me wrong. She was delightful and she was generous. I would have liked her regardless of her income level. If she had an opinion and expressed it, no one would dared have questioned her suggestion, though I’m sure she would have been open for that to happen. You’ve heard the expression: “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen”. So it was with her. It re-enforced the concept that money talks. I promise you, she carried more clout than the lady who always brought her four German shepherds to church with her and left them in her car (with the windows down of course).
- Let me ask you this: “Is the pitcher of the baseball team more important than the person who plays in the outfield?” Are they equally important? Be careful how you answer the question. My “All Star” grandsons played outfield this season.
What about church? Is there a pecking order or is everyone on a level playing field? I routinely tell people: “We are better when you are here.” It is true. We are all on a level playing field and it takes all of us collectively to accomplish the things that need to be accomplished.
My grandchildren will be here later today. We are having Vacation Bible School this week and they are coming to participate. This year I am as well. I don’t remember that I volunteered, but the General signed me up. At least, it gives me an opportunity to be a kid again. I can hardly wait!
All My Best!