Margo lived through the bombing of Dresden, Germany more than 60 years ago.
She wants to write about some of her experiences, and I hope she gives us a glimpse of that harrowing experience when war failed to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys.
You see, the allied troops, headed by us, the Americans, rained artillery on that German town, in hopes of eliminating the Nazi threat during World War II. I recalled it only because of a book I read by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., who, as a young soldier, took part in the bombing and later memorialized it in an anti-war fiction book called “Slaughter House Five.”
Vonnegut, who died in the past year or so, showed the insanity of war from both sides of the conflict. His protagonist, a fellow named Billy Pilgrim, “science-fictionally” sprang from the present to the past and then to the future, often seeing himself in relationship to war and its effect on him and different periods of time in our society. The bombing of Dresden is highlighted in all of its gruesomeness, if my memory serves me correct. And when I attended a class to learn how to blog and heard that this intelligent, articulate white-haired woman named Margo had lived through it, I felt my Self begin to time travel.
Oh, I could never tell you about living in a city that was bombed like London, England, was during World War II. I only know of stories told by others. Nor could I relate the experience that Margo lived through. Terror is terror, no matter what geographic location you happen to be living in during a war. (Can anyone think of children in Iraq? How about those seeking bomb blast protections in Afghanistan?)
But I do remember the feeling of total helplessness that is caused by repeated bombings on and around you. Artillery shells fell like thundering, painful metal chunks of hail on my position and the men in the platoon I commanded while in Vietnam. Americans fired those shells. My own U.S. of A., American led Army. They called it “friendly fire,” the worse distortion of an English-speaking phrase I have ever heard uttered by a superior officer trying to explain the many fuck-ups that occur in war.
I will never forget how I wanted to spoon my way into the hard ground that I lay, as one round pounded us on one side and then the other. Yes, had I the time, I would have used my military-issued eating utensil to dig my way to China to escape the barrage. What I wouldn’t have given for one of those trusty World War I shovels to dig and dig for my life’s protection.
I prayed. More so that day than in any other time in my life. “God, just get me through this, just let me survive, I will do whatever You want, I won’t sin any more, I will be good and never stray from Your side again.”
Ernest Hemingway wrote about being in war. He was wounded in some engagement while with an ambulance crew, I seem to recall, Don’t know if it was the First World War or some other friendly neighborhood society-sanctioned killing between one country and another. (One of the wars involving Spain maybe?) Neither he nor Vonnegut ever glorified war. They tasted the horror, and tried to warn each generation to ban it from our civilization.
Who am I to disagree with such literary giants.
I just want to read what Margo may have to say after next week’s class on blogging the night away.
[…] I want to be like a Billy Pilgrim, the main character from the book “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. He would travel from the past to the future and then back again to the present which was smack dab in the middle of World War ll when the Allies were freeing persons from Dachau. (See Dresden calls out for Vonnegut!) […]
[…] I cursed once, using the “F” word in connection with a war story I related. ( See: Dresden ) I did use a couple of “God damns” in another story. Using God That had to have been […]