Well now, it appears that I have left a bit of confusion in the post(s) dated February 1. Sorry about that, I am new at this and when I get confused by the instructions my editor faithfully provides, I have to turn back to her for more assistance. So, let’s see, I was talking about my early days and was about to move from the farm in Yale and start providing insight on the years to follow. Keep reading, I have a reason for all of this. Thanks…
Continuing from where I left off…The fact is, I discovered I was 17 and eligible to be designated as a WWII veteran and therefore, eligible for the “G,I. Bill of Rights”, which would pay for a college education, I literally ran away from the only home I had ever known. I was now “on my own” and dependent on no one. That was my attitude as I went through Basic training and right up to the point where I learned they were sending me to the Philippine Islands as a recruit. I must confess, on those 31 days that it took us to sail out of New York, through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific Ocean, I was more frightened by the future than the fact of the grand adventure that was to come.
We stopped for three days in Hawaii, after having spent three days in Panama City, Panama, and the beauty of the ocean had calmed my anxieties until I would learn, I was among those who would be assigned to duty in Japan.
February 11th would become the longest day of my life. We debarked in Yokohama, Japan, and that was interesting, but as the train slowly climbed out of the harbor area and through the cities, you could look directly into the homes of Japanese families and I suddenly realized, these were the people our wartime propaganda had taught us to hate. I had been an impressive kid, I soaked that stuff up. I had even tried to lie about my age and join the Army just so I could learn how to kill these people.
The Fourth Replacement Depot was a fascinating place, some said it had been the Japanese West Point, but all we were about to see were rows upon rows of tents which would be our home for 2-3 days. The next day we were told to report to an assembly hall where a Colonel would tell us about the lives we were about to live. I still give thanks to that man. He explained to us that the war was over, that we were a peace loving people and we were to treat the Japanese people in like manner. There would be no problems, but if there were, we could be assured of the stiffest penalties allowable.
For the first time in my life, I consciously thought about being an American and while I ought to be proud of the freedoms that were mine, merely because of my birth, I needed to realize the obligation I had to serve people who had no idea of what freedom really means to the individual.