Have you ever had one of those ah-ha moments as an adult about something that you just accepted as a child?
I've been watching the HBO series, The Pacific over the past couple of weeks. I knew the same things most people learned in high school about the War, and my grandfather served during the war, but never saw any combat. But that series, my God. If real combat is even 1/10th of what they portray it like on the screen, I can't even imagine. I don't know how those men went through all of that and came out productive citizens on the other side. Combat vets are some amazingly resilient people.
So as I've been watching, I've been having all sorts of realizations about things. I went to Japan when I was in high school. We had hosted Japanese exchange students (the 2 week junior high exchange, not the year long high school kids) when I was in junior high, and between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I had the opportunity to participate on the other end.
While I was over there, I stayed with one of the families whose son had stayed with us a few months prior. His mother was amazing and welcomed me into their home. His father, for the duration of my visit, was in the hospital. Now, I don't claim to know a thing about this man, or his life, but as soon as I had moved on to another family (we stayed with 2 families) he came home.
I never thought much of it until I was watching that series. The devastation we caused to Japan during the war was incredible. I don't know how old this man was, but it's definitely possible that he was a young boy at the end of World War II. Seeing that kind of destruction, I'm sure made an impression on a little boy, and I wonder if, some 40 years later, he still held a grudge against Americans. I wouldn't blame him if he did.
Another thing that I came to realize over the course of watching was that Japan is basically a brand new country. They've completely rebuild themselves over the past 65 years and it has given them a distinct advantage in the world. They came together as a country and got shit done.
I wonder what it will take for our country to do that. For everyone to be on the same page and stop bickering about the little things that make us different and start agreeing on the things that make us all Americans, and start doing things for the good of the country, and not just the good of the individual.
My dad was telling me about a friend of his whose father had worked for GM in the 1940's. He said that when Pearl Harbor happened, they completely transformed the assembly line from making cars to making tanks in 24 hours. I wonder if that could happen in the America of 2010?