Could this, perhaps, qualify as a WWII story? A few have been unwise enough to assure us "old soldiers" they want to hear them? Which strikes as odd, because - most certainly - no one cared to hear them when we came back from "over there!"
Back from Europe and on our way to Japan - before Col. Paul Tibbets and crew, the Enola Gay, the first atom bomb, Maj. Charles Sweeney and crew the B-29 names Bock's Car, and the second atom bomb - we couldn't bum a ride from Hattiesburg to Camp Shelby or vicey-versey, period. - - - Or hardly anywhere else. - - - All "glory" had seeped out of WWII.
Also: A handful of us "old soldiers" recently became convinced our presence was desired at a local function - and found ourselves in the awkward situation of no one knowing what to do with us after we arrived? Reiteration of the fact that WWII is over isn't needed because it was more-than-clear in 1945, when we came home. Though "Taps" is probably the only genuine end for most of us? - - - This is not explainable to others who have never experienced like situations!
When the time shortly arrives that no one wants to hear anymore about Iraq, it's going to be a jarring experience for most of today's sincere patriots - without touching on the right or wrong of us "infidels" being there, or actuality of how/why we're there! - Afghanistan has faded?
Doesn't anyone read or teach history anymore?
People in positions of power don't know what the battle of Tours-Pointers was about?
Or who said: "What good fortune for those in power that people do not think!" - Which appears to be in full-blown process of being proved "all over again!"
But we've strayed from what caused this gathering of words from an old farm boy who got "drafted" and would never in a million, zillion years be a "good soldier!"
Everything, for out boyhood buddy, the sort of buddy never replaced, came down to five short lines in the Thursday, April 21st edition (2005) of "Looking Back 60 Years" - that, and the small, white, stained-by-time, upright military grave-marker, just inside Sikeston Memorial Park Cemetery. It's immediately to the right, at the entrance, just in case someone should go by and say, "We appreciate - more than worlds can tell - your dying for us, Marlin and, in this world, will never forget you!" - It was much worse than the five lines; he wasn't "missing-in-action," he was dead. At least - if it really makes any difference - the worldly part of him, still existing, didn't remain "over there," thousands of miles from the farm, south of Morehouse.
Some things and events are not describable in terms or words giving least inkling about the reality: He could throw a softball faster/harder than any other ever witnessed!
A friend living on the farm next to the Bell Farm and "growing up" with Junior says he could throw a baseball with the same indescribable ability! Hardly anyone could hit his pitch!
Daddy Bell said he busted the side planks of the barn wall, originally throwing at a big knothole that was destroyed. Someone said (when Junior never came back) the barn wall was never repaired - the farm eventually sold.
No survivor knows exactly how to describe the disturbing feeling arriving when attempting to fathom why we survived and the others died - some call it a feeling of guilt but that isn't really apt description - the feeling is much more complex than that?
Now - at age eighty - comes the helpless feeling - especially when someone with a huge SUV or pickup wants to drive where we are - that something is swiftly, forever changing in the good ol' USA - and that something definitely isn't good?
It took the Romans three or four hundred years to stop issuing useless, ignored edicts.
How long has it been since anyone said how much gold we have at Fort Knox?
WWII provided the perfect excuse for throwing Social Security's swiftly accumulating millions into the "pot" and they've not only never been put back, but our "government" has neither the ability to calculate what is owed the "trust" ( greatest misnomer - ever!) or financial where-with-all for replacing what is owed - we could be living as high as government "wheels!"
We prefer honoring a boyhood friend and hero (one year older), to belaboring the many outright frauds inherent in this tax-tax-tax - which daddy said was one of the most sophisticatedly deceptive (as to true purpose) taxes ever perpetrated by any government on its citizenry!
"What good fortune for those in power that the people do not think!"
Most importantly your neighboring, boyhood buddy, and us, remember you, Junior, and feel safe in saying lots of others are thankful you existed for a short bit of space/time - now a few others will know we have the worldly remains of a genuine hero, right here at home!
Barring Alzheimer's, we'll never forget your fast ball drop-pitch!
Or that we were right there in Germany, with you, and it could just as easily be you writing about us- though we could never, ever throw a ball that fast! Maybe changing and fixing three flats on the '39 Chevy pickup between Salcedo and Sikeston and still getting to the Malone Theater before the main, feature film started would count for something?
Anyway. Soon we'll all be dead and WWII will genuinely be over!
Maybe then we'll genuinely know something about something?
Until then we'll remember the ones like Junior Bell and the different kind of "soldiers," such as Jonah Clark, and be thankful they once lived.
An old soldier.