Memories of War

One day in August 72 years ago, the radio gave all of America wonderful, wonderful news! The war was finally, blessedly OVER! It had gone on for four long years, but now it was ended, and the soldiers and sailors and marines would come HOME! I was fourteen that year and, as usual, was spending the summer on Long Beach Island. Suddenly an impromptu parade started in our town of Ship Bottom, marching south to Beach Haven on the only paved road on the island, and my brother and I ran to join the cars and people and flags and cheering and singing, the celebration of a day we were really still too young to understand completely.

All we really knew were the things that had affected our young lives directly. Our house was on the beach, so the windows on the ocean side were painted black, blocking our lights, so that German submarines could not determine the shoreline. There had been no more night time beach parties with fires, for the same reason. In fact, no civilians were allowed on the beaches at night at all, because there were Coast Guard stations all along the island, and at night armed Guards galloped their horses up and down the beach, accompanied by huge trained dogs, searching for any enemies who might try to swim in from submarines close to the shore.

When we came from the beach back to the house, there was always a bottle of Carbona on the step. We had to take the rag there and clean the crude oil off our feet before we came in the house. Everyone who swam in the ocean had this tar on their feet, because the edge of the water was always covered with it. It had come from tanker ships torpedoed and sunk somewhere off the coast, near or far away. I don’t remember ever thinking about the sailors and merchant marines who had been on those ships, or wondering what their fate had been. We were so innocent, and so protected.

Of course, the adults had coped with other realities. Everything was rationed, and there were books with coupons for everything: gasoline, meat, lumber, things that I never had to think about at all. And I never heard my parents complain about any of it. It was all for the war effort, and everyone was involved. Back in Philadelphia, as in all cities in the nation, there were air raid shelters and air raid drills, with Wardens patrolling their neighborhoods to be sure that all lights were extinguished. And absolutely none of it really affected my day-to-day life at all. Unlike Europe, we never had a real air raid.

I wonder how many, today, are at all affected by the wars we are now fighting against true evil. Behind our self-centered lives, there still are men fighting and willing to die to protect us. Back then there was a draft to turn men into soldiers, but today they are all volunteers…every one of them. Is it any wonder that I burn when someone claims to “hate the military?” How do they think we got here, to be the only true practicing democracy in the world? Who protected their God-given freedoms?

God sent his people out to war many times, and blessed and protected them many times, and is still miraculously protecting Israel today. On this 4th of July in 2017 I wonder how we have reached the place where so many of us here in this land have turned against the God who has so blessed us, and want no mention of God and certainly no mention of the only true Savior, Jesus Christ, in schools or government or anywhere else?

Pray for our country, people of God, and especially for those hearts and minds which are being led astray. Pray for the children who know nothing about God or patriotism. Pray for the Godless, that their hearts would be turned. Pray for our missionaries everywhere, who are introducing Christ to a lost generation.


--Norma Stockton