By Ralph Hood
I was four months old when Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941 and our country entered WW II. I was four when the war ended.
Early in life I did my little part to help. We smashed tin cans and sent them to Uncle Sam, who—somehow—turned them into bullets to kill the enemy.
We also packed and sent care packages to soldiers. One of my uncles was a chaplain in Europe, another was in the navy. Our parents worried about them.
We lived in Brunswick, Georgia, just a hop, skip and jump from the ocean. The electricity was turned off whenever there was a threat of German submarines just off the coast. Our parents came into our bedrooms to see if we were scared, but we enjoyed it.
Mother told me that we would win the war because God was on our side. That made sense to me.
Military ships were built in Brunswick, and as small children we saw a brand-new ship launched. A lady hit the bow of the ship with a bottle, the ship slid into the water and I was confused.
We knew the ship was destined to sail to Europe. All I knew about Europe was that it was all the way across the ocean, and that children in Europe would love to have the spinach that I hated to eat.
Even at that young age I knew about ocean tides. I remember thinking that the tide must take the ships all the way to Europe.
One summer during the war—in those pre-air conditioned days—our parents and some aunts and uncles rented a cottage at the edge of the beach. Being on the beach at night was absolutely, positively forbidden. I didn’t know about that rule, so I wandered down to the beach by myself one night. Daddy came running out on the beach, grabbed me and headed straight back to the house.
Then all hell broke loose. A jeep full of soldiers—armed soldiers with real, so-nuff guns pointed at us—arrived! Fortunately, one of the soldiers recognized Daddy as being the county school superintendent and let us go.
I thought it was very exciting, but Daddy let me know that he was not at all pleased.
Ida Smith—who helped mother—had a son in the war. If a large caravan of army vehicles passed, we would stand with Ida and wave at every vehicle because, as Ida said, her son might be on one of those trucks or jeeps. We never saw him, but we waved, nevertheless.
In 1945 President F. D. Roosevelt died while my mother was in the hospital with our brand-new baby brother, Jim. Daddy took Martha Ann and me to the back of the hospital and honked the horn. Mother appeared at the window so we could talk—loudly—to her.
Daddy asked, “Did you know that President Roosevelt is d-e-a-d?” Daddy spelled it out, but Martha Ann—then in the first grade—immediately asked, “Is President Roosevelt really dead?”
Finally—in August of 1945—the Japanese surrendered and the war was over.
I would not remember that day if not for Daddy. He made sure that we would never forget it. He took me and Martha Ann downtown where people celebrated the end of WW II, loudly and joyfully.
Daddy said, “Don’t ever forget that you saw the end of World War II.”
We remember it to this day.
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