Have to be Loved to be Understood

May 2, 2012

I’ve heard that I haven’t posted in a while, so…here’s my post.

I’m currently reading Once Upon a Town by Bob Greene, and let me tell you…it gives me chills every time I pick it up. First, part of the introduction:

Once upon a time – not really so very long ago – something happened in this one little town that, especially on days like this one, now sounds just about impossible. Something happened, in the remote Nebraska sandhills, in a place few people today ever pass through….

…We’re always talking about what it is that we want the country to become, about how we can save ourselves as a people. We speak as if the elusive answer is out there in the mists, off in the indeterminate future, waiting to be magically discovered, like a new constellation, and plucked from the surrounding stars.

But maybe the answer is not somewhere out in the future distance; maybe the answer is one we already had, but somehow threw away. Maybe, as we as a nation try to make things better, the answer is hidden off somewhere, locked in storage, waiting to be retrieved.

The book tells the story of North Platte, Nebraska, and the Canteen that developed as a result of the large train depot where soldiers passed through during WWII. Soldiers would stop for 10 minutes at different depots, but North Platte was different. The people of the town (and surrounding towns) greeted every train with smiles, food, coffee, music, magazines, and gratitude. Every train. There were always people there to greet the soldiers. Soldiers – teenagers – who were traveling across the country to most likely die far away from homes. These people were always there to express their appreciation and to give them one last taste of America before beginning their journeys.

Who does that anymore? What kind of civilians do this for their soldiers? Yes, “it’s a different time,” especially since most people don’t travel by train. But is it really that different of a time? At least during WWII there was a very clear enemy and cause to die fighting for. But what now? And wouldn’t that mean that soldiers need civilian support more than ever?

As all of you know, I have plenty of qualms about the military, but this just sounds like the solution to bridging the gap between the civilian and military populations. I don’t have an idea of how we can implement something like this today, but I think we should all read this book and think about what kind of country we’re shaping for the future.

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