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Jack Ragsdale

WWII is History, isn't it?

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Hi R: This morning I am experiencing the most pain ever in both my hand and right arm. Kaiser wouldn't give me the remedy I asked for--I must spend another $20 and lose of another half-day in their pursuit. Thanks for your email this morning. I feel for you waking in the night without being able to go back to sleep. I've had a lot of that. In re your comments on the little piece I sent you, I have only selected memories of that trip and I wonder why. Happenings much older are fresh in my mind. Why? On remembering, I now I think we stopped in Liverpool and later did go to Antwerp. I can't assign trips I made to those places to any other time. It's mixed up in my head. When I was in London the war was still on. The tale I told you is without its raison d'etre. Ten or more years ago, I wrote the story to a friend with whom I was and am rather intimate--in the sense that we exchange stories in vulgar tasteless language. We are both cynical and contemptuous of our Melican fellows. You probably knew why I was walking in Picadilly late at night, and you are right:. It was for no good. I wrote the tale for Matt as a trial and I thought it good then--but it is lost.. I have it somewhere-- but where? I thought [then] that I grasped the intense lonliness I felt that night. I would have given anything to be with someone. As I said, in every doorway there was a soldier and a girl in tight embrace. There were so many people on the street, it was difficult to maneuver. I still retain a vision of the many small stores with just a step up and room for two people to crowd into the small doorway of a closed shop. There was light fog, cold and a darkness in which everything was visible but only in misshapen outline. I was familiar with the lighting in New York at that time--it had been reduced. In London there were no streetlights--just creepy darkness that intensified the cold. Eventually I met a girl who was alone, and spoke to her-- she told me she lived nearby. In a matter of minutes we were mounting the steps to a flat on the second or third floor. She was slim and pretty, smiled easily and was quite agreeable--not whorey or worn-out--probably no more than 23 or 24. Since the room was cold we undressed quickly and jumped in the huge old-fashioned bed under ample covers. Nothing could have been more pleasant--my fantasy certainly was being fulfilled. After some minutes of tactile exploring we proceeded toward the main goal. I can imagine that my mind at this point became quite clouded with dreams lacking a lot of logic--but those dreams were not destined to endure. All of a sudden, the girl was standing on the floor beside the bed, excitedly pulling on clothes, addressing me: "Are you coming with me?" She was literally tearing at her clothes. It was only then that I could hear the siren of alarm, and somewhat wearily, as my mind began to deal with reality, I put my feet oin the floor and slowly decided that I would not go. "Put on your clothes," she said to me, "you can't stay here, but you can sit with ..." she mentioned a feminine name. In great haste, she took me across the hall to another flat. In a small room, unlighted except for the flickering fire in the grate, a woman a little older than I was sitting, bundled-up, in a comfortable chair. She pointed to another comfortable chair set toward the fire and I sat with her. After the exchange of platitudinous greetings, we fell into the most pleasant conversation immaginable. She told me she had a bad cold but that she never went out in case of airraids--just carried on her regular occupations. I responded with some petty detail about my ship and train ride down to London. In that room there was utter Serenity. We were aware of muffled sounds outside but we gave them no recognition. The small size of the room added to its comfy cosiness. What wouldn't I give now to know that woman's name and her place in society today at one hundred and one. Alas, I was thirty then and she must have been near forty. After thirty minutes, "my girl" peeked in the door and I left my friend and her fire. Dutifully, as two soldiers, "my girl" and I returned to that big comfortable bed, resumed our places and completed our assignment. The Magic--, it was no longer. I mozied my way back to my musty, heavily curtained hotel.room in the Prince something or other. The next day I went back to Euston station and took a train north. The only other memory I have of that place is one on entering the river leading to the town. The entry is through a sizable estuary or river mouth. I was standing on the bridge with the Chief Mate. It was not my watch, so it must have been his-- my first trip on that ship, it may have been only my second trip as third mate. All of a sudden there was the boom of a cannon and the mate immediately changed course. It was a warning we were headed for disaster and I hadn't understood. I remember that I felt relief it had not happened on my watch for I would not have known what to do. Thank God we won that war. That victory made it possible for us to go on to other and even greater things: The Bay of Pigs, presidents like Lyndon Johnson, Nixon and George W. Bush. WHAT WONDERS WE HAVE WROUGHT. God looks down on us with approval and all the little Iraqi children who have been blasted into heaven are grateful to us for ending their lives. God blesses America.

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I will answer your post. I hope that all Europeans don't believe that you and your left winged ideas represent all of that are history teachers in the U.S. There are plenty of us that believe that GW Bush has done the right thing in Iraq, and I know that our soldiers and those of our British, Italian and Polish allies have done the right thing and to intimate that our soldiers are slaughtering innocent Iraqui children is an insult to these brave men and women.

All one has to do is look at where you are from and you instantly realize that California would be better suited to be part of a socialist country and not the rest of the U.S.

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All one has to do is look at where you are from and you instantly realize that California would be better suited to be part of a socialist country.....

I knew there was something I liked about California ;):blink:

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Well sir, I love the free enterprise system. It is understandable why you would love socialism as England is steeped in it's history. You should spend time in California. It is a great place to visit, but even greater knowing tha one can leave it and go back to a less socialistic state. The problem is that California is going broke with all of it's socialistic policies and feels that the rest of the U.S. should bale them out of their financial woes.

Most Americans find that socialistic and communistic economic systems are deplorable and prefer the free enterprise system. The socialistic welfare state does not stimulate a good economy.

This should give you some hope, as most university professors in this country would prefer a socialistic democracy, but sanity prevails and we keep our economic system regardless of their misguided theories.

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I am grateful for Jim Hudson’s reply to my email to a friend in which I told of a wartime experience more than sixty years ago. I’m grateful to him because he laid out the vast span of our differences in the present.

He has confused the issue a little by saying, that considering the geography of my origin, I am a Socialist. I have lived my life in Georgia, New York, Texas, and California in that order. I reply: We have a Republican governor, who I think a clown, wildly embraced by a giddy, irresponsible electorate for no other reason than that he is a famous actor in highly unrealistic movies containing much violence. His other fame is for having pinched the butts of many women. By his actions to date he has favored the very rich and collected a political war chest making him the envy of every politician. His major thrust has been to reduce taxes on the rich. He is reputed to be the owner of a fortune of four to five hundred million dollars, thus qualifying to be a CEO of sorts, the same ilk that runs our national government.

The most powerful world governments have evolved into entities which continually stir us in a giant boiling pot of war, occupying us constantly with mortal danger and the production of arms. Thomas Jefferson’s notion of “the pursuit of happiness” (which he borrowed from the Scots) is lost on our leaders, who pursue (even as did Caesar and Hitler) conquests, whether it be land or oil. I think that wasteful of human life and the resources of the planet.

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Sir, while I applaud your WWII service, as all of your generation, the Greatest Generation, we only differ on our political and economic philosophy. I am a conservative, and while I grew up as a registered Democrat, as that was the way it was in the South some 40 years ago, in my eyes, the Democratic party deserted it's base and moved farther and farther to the left towards socialism and I disagree with that form of government and economics.

I have a daughter that lives in California and she loves it there. She is on welfare and California has the most generous welfare in the country. She left Texas to go there for more welfare benefits. She hates your governor because he is wanting drastic cuts in the welfare program. She has a degree in computer programming but found life to be easier by not working and learning to live on the efforts of others.

I, on the other hand have worked for all I have. I spent 24 years as an Army officer with two tours of duty in VietNam and now teach school. I was considering retirement soon, but here in the state of Texas they just changed the retirement rules, so I will have to work untill I am 72 before I become fully vested. Thats OK with me. I had rather work than be a leach off of the system.

Again I thank you for your service. We owe your generation a lot, not only this country, but the whole civilized world.

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