Attitudes towards veterans

Discussion in 'Historiography' started by Callisto, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. sparky34

    sparky34 Senior Member

    JB39 , brought something to mind ,,in the early 60s i use to sit and chat with an old
    W.W.I veteran who had been a stretcher bearer at PASSCHENDAELE and who had served
    all through the great war ,because when he returned he was a keen trade unionist , he
    was blacklisted in all the woolen mills in BRADFORD and the area ..he had to take any
    menial job to put bread on the table for his family , and this lasted up to W.W.2 ,,
    sorry to digress ,,but what was that saying '' a country fit for hero's '' i will say no more ...
  2. urqh

    urqh Senior Member

    Maybe Spike Milligan said it..

    He writes about ww2 vets but I personally don't agree with him there, I do though move it forwards to today...

    No, not all those bemedalled vetrans carrying banners past the cenotaph were hero's. So he said...But I like this line best...

    They were the victors...medals were distributed to those that hadn't even heard a gun go bang. Anyone in uniform was adulated. They were hero's!

    I'd just move it on 68 years.
  3. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    In November '45 I finally got my first leave home after being abroad since April 1943. I came back to London and Manor Road over the LIAP (Leave In Addition to PYTHON) route that I had previously helped to run. I travelled for three days via lorry, train and ferry and finally reached Stoke Newington where my parents were now living.

    As I got off the bus in Manor Road I could see the front door some 200 yards away. Over the doorway I could also see that decorations had been placed in position in patriotic red, white and blue. It was obviously one of those many 'welcome home' signs that I had been seeing all the way from Dover and I have to confess to feeling quite touched.

    It was only when I got right outside the door that I could read the sign itself.

    It said: 'WELCOME HOME JACK'.

    My name is Ron!

    My brother-in law had beaten me to it and his name over the door had taken all the wind out of my sails!

    Despite the sign, however, Mum, Dad and all at home seemed pleased to see me and I had a fantastic 28-day leave.

  4. urqh

    urqh Senior Member

    I'll take my own view further here....I at the risk of sounding actually think all ww2 British and Commonwealth folk were heroic. Right down to the Bevan boys and the ammunition workers. A whole nation or nations involved in total war that meant a fight of nations to the death...Total war involving a generation men women and children is so much different that that we see occuring today. Maybe not individual hero's but heroic times and truly deserving of our gratitude.

    I still don't see 9,000 hero's though in Afghanistan. Sorry.
  5. Roxy

    Roxy Senior Member

    Everyone is entitled to their own view. I happen to disagree with your's.

  6. urqh

    urqh Senior Member

    Thats why its my view Roxy.
  7. Roxy

    Roxy Senior Member

    And I have no issues with that; only that mine's is different.

  8. sparky34

    sparky34 Senior Member

    just a footnote really in reply to URGH , yes i would say all the people who were alive
    during W,W,2 were heroic , maybe not we who were children but certainly the adults
    were ,my mother certainly was bringing up a large family on very little money and the
    food rationing of course ..waving away members of the family , some never to return ,
    all who did their bit ,even the ones who rode a desk ,'' so much owed by so many alive today for the freedom they enjoy because of W,W,2 VETS ,,
  9. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    I can only speak of the deep South and we are a rather large nation.

    You can probably assume that the South is patriotic and has had a strong martial vein running through it, although it is losing strength over the years. This patriotism is present in spite of the fact that this is the only part of the nation to have been occupied by an enemy army.

    Around Veterans Day and Memorial Day, when veterans are asked to stand and be recognized at my church, easily 2/3 or better of the men and a large number of the women do so. I do not doubt that other churches and civic organiations boast similar numbers. It is no small wonder, given our patriotism and willingness to serve, that up until about 15 years ago, the Alabama National Guard was larger than most other nations' regular armies.

    Looking at the strong military base of the area, it should not be surprising that veterans are honored here for their service to the country. I look at it this way: they gave a portion of their youth for the good of others and I do not fault those who respect that. I do hesitate to offer my thanks to those who gave time and especially those who gave more, such as a limb or their general health. It is the least I can do. It is not appropriate to quantify the degree of service rendered by a veteran, but were I to, Sapper's offering would be up there high on the list if for nothing more than the health difficulties he has had to live with for last 67 years. To be honest with you, the struggles he has faced every moment would grow weary on me were I to have to endure them in the face of an uncaring citizenry.

    Are they heroes? It is hard to answer. I've been called a hero for my extracirricular activities, especially after an incident earlier in the spring. Quite frankly, I feel self-conscious about the laudations.

    Are veterans heroes for merely serving? Sure, why not. Heroes can be anything, if it is important enough to a person. My father is a hero to me for many things - coaching my sports teams, having faith in me to do the right thing, teaching me to back up a farm trailer with a tractor or providing for my family financially. There are worse "heroes" anywhere you look. Just check out the TV or those trashy papers at the check-out line. I think that defending my country from those who wish to do harm to my family rates pretty high.

    Generally there is an acknowledgement of a veterans service (at least among my peers), but by and large, we don't make an embarrassing spectacle of it, although some who think doffing a hat when recognizing someone and their service is going overboard. It is not uncommon for others and myself to offer our appreciation to veterans upon meeting them. Nothing overblown, just a gentle mention of thanks and maybe a handshake.

    We can be an emotional lot. A lot of us sing along with the national anthemn when it is performed, which here in the States is quite regular. The song can bring tears to my eyes sometimes. I am neither embarrased nor apologetic about it. It is who we are and I would not change it for the world.

    Did I answer the question as asked, Adam?
  10. arnhem44

    arnhem44 Member

    In Holland there is somewhat of a foul smell when a Dutch ww2 'veteran' speaks of heroism.

    Historically, the 10 years after WW2 nobody appointed heroes (society needed rebuilding), but each one did their best to convince others how bad they suffered in war... what was worse ? being in a jap camp , versus being in a forced labour camp in germany ? ("at least the sun shone in Java"), Having suffered hunger in winter 44-45 versus the maltreatment of jews in natzweiler ?
    As more and more horror came known to the public, everybody shut up (as it was obvious who suffered most).
    So what did the media do? search for ¨heroes¨...and being occupied most of the war, the only real hero is the (in exile!) Queen and family..and especially Prince Bernhard...what a hero! ( :/ ) .
    Then came the media attention to our resistance fighters ...boy, how they were heroes (*), then people who hid a few jews ..also heroes.
    Everybody who had some story to tell a hero.
    Which led to a joking scene on TV in which two elderly brothers claimed they pointed a german soldier in the wrong direction to the trainstation... that was the pivotal point of hero deflation.
    Since then, it became silent..until a couple of dutch soldiers died in Iraq/Afghanistan.

    (*) With regards to the dutch resistance fighters : more and more these years(!) you get to hear of the MANY mistakes they made;
    Such as in Groningen executing a believed to have been a collaborator who in fact hid a jewish family in his house...still that veteran resistance fighter has a hero medal received from the Queen and finds himself still ' heroic'.
    And the many cases in which a resistance group could not hold back and kill a puny collaborator or a low rank german soldier which led to immediate reprisals with 50 to 200 executions of innocent civilians if the ' terrorists' would not hand themselves over.
    These guys survived the war and got medals and were lauded 'heroes' and without ANY second thoughts or doubts about their actions.

    The latest disgusting feature on TV was a confession of a Dutch Police man who served on during the occupation (as did the railway personnel..shipments to Concentrationcamps) and felt ' so bad' in waking up jewish families at 6 in the morning telling them there is no other way than to go with limited possessions and step into the waiting german truck which will bring them to Germany.
    He found it endearing to say that he 'specifically' told the little jewish girl of 7 who cried a bit, 'don't cry, take your favourite puppet with you, and you'll be fine'..
    Then he got emotional, and felt that he is a victim too of the german occupation, being ' forced' to do his kind of work.

    And thus, we, the afterwar generation, learn that "hero" and "victim" are abused words.
  11. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

  12. Callisto

    Callisto Twitter ye not

    Just a polite reminder to those who may wish to follow on from the above post. i know that some do not read all the pages in a thread

    this is not a thread asking particularly for examples of personal heroes or the attributes of individuals.
    It was intended to be a discussion of the concept of hero applied in a blanket fashion to anyone who served in armed forces ; whether it exists as a recent phenomena; differences in attitudes historically, and the possible reasons why there has been a change in the attitude of the general public.

  13. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    The very idea of being labeled "Hero" I find quite funny. Indeed slightly daft....Anyone that calls me a hero would make me feel deeply embarrassed, if not, downright stupid.

    But then I looked back at some of the operations and war time stunts we got up to...Then perhaps we were Hero's at that time.....

    I think back to the deep penetration through the enemy lines. Both and Holland, and near Vire, in Normandy, The time at Pegasus. The Goodwood operation. Falaise. The night crossing over the Escaut Canal. Overloon and Venraij. and many others...

    Then perhaps we were hero's, but never ever thought of ourselves as anything other than just ordinary blokes..... Now? Well perhaps we were just a little bit heroic? A sobering though for an old gentleman in his very late eighties....

    There is no doubt that hero or not the young men that took part in that mighty operation, can loo back with a little pride about restoring the countries to their own people, and all the other GOOD things we did..... Hero's then? maybe just maybe ....
  14. Joe Brown

    Joe Brown WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Dear Sapper,

    We were just ordinary young men called upon to do extraordinary things . . . heroic deeds!

    Proud to have been in their company: proud to be in touch with one of them today.

  15. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Joe Mate...
    Those were days when we were young, and all the world was ready for change and we were going to do it......

    We were not going to go back to the Forelock tugging attitudes that prevailed before 1939.......And Joe, lets be honest we did mighty deeds.Some of which, the very thought of...makes me shudder. Stone me! did we ever? Yes we bloody did... and with a "huge grin".....have the lumps to prove it.....

    Can anyone imagine digging in where ever we went? Then to sleep in the hole we dug. Rain or shine, wet or dry....... Just think about going up the garden and digging in now, and sleeping in the fox hole....YUK
  16. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    While talking about real hero's, there is one man that stands out as richly deserving the VC..And in my opinion should have got that award.....

    My personal hero when I was young. Let me introduce you to Lt Arthur Heal RE. 246 Field Company. Third British Infantry division. For this man carried out the bravest act anywhere on the Normandy invasion coast....

    Here at my home, I have his memoirs of the events that he took part in......Does anyone want to learn about Arthur Heal RE? If yes I will post what he had to say...
  17. Callisto

    Callisto Twitter ye not

    Forum Guidelines/Rules.
    "Please try not to post irrelevant text designed to disrupt discussion.

    Try and keep subjects on topic"

    it seems to me that this has turned into a "pick your hero" thread after all. (given that there are apparently other such threads, i might be allowed to think i could have a thread in the 1000s posted here on the forum to discuss this particular topic.)

    You win, i give up. probably the intention all along :rolleyes:
  18. AMWright

    AMWright Member


    I for one would certainly love to hear his story. I am sure many others would to. Perhaps you could create a dedicated thread for it?

  19. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    "....could have a thread..." ? It seems to me that once one starts a thread on an internet forum, it ceases to be personal property. In doing so, we must surely understand that it will lead a life of its own and be subject to the personalities and views of the other posters.

    I've had replies to threads I've started where I've thought "That's not what this one's about at all" The only reasonable action is to gently steer it back on line.

    In my opinion, condescension and smugness towards long-standing posters who have given much valuable information, even if sometimes drifting a little off the point does not feature on the list of ways to win friends and influence people on a generally friendly forum such as this.
    Steve Mac likes this.
  20. Callisto

    Callisto Twitter ye not

    i'm not claiming personal property. i was asking for a discussion on a specific point, amongst the many, many threads on here. that is all. :mellow:

    Meandering happens, but it seems to me that the moment i dared ask a veteran to stick to the topic i was tagged by a certain individual and condescended to by them on another thread about my question - what happened to the mantra "there no stupid questions" i wonder. :unsure:

    thanks for your advice about winning friends but it also seems to me that the minute i was groundlessly told to find some humility, my membership here was tainted anyway. -_-

    i am disappointed as this is otherwise a fine forum and i've had some kind responses and comments off thread. my sincere thanks to them all whether they agreed with me or not, but it's pointless continuing the membership when others either persist in derailing the discussion, or start commenting about me and not the topic. i guess there'll be plenty happy to hear that. enjoy the moment anyway.

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