Tuesday, August 22, 2006


War and the sons of the rich

I'm reading Flyboys: A True Story of Courage, by James Bradley.*

Bradley interviewed several World War II pilots, including George H.W. Bush. According to Bush, the guest speaker for Bush's graduation ceremony at the exclusive prep school, Phillips Andover Academy, in spring 1942 was Secretary of War Henry Stimson.

As impressive as it is to get the Secretary of War to take time out to be your high school graduation speaker during a major war, that was nothing compared to what Stimson actually said.

Stimson, himself the scion of a wealthy family and himself a graduate of Phillips Andover Academy, told the 17- and18-year-olds in the graduating class that they should complete their educations rather than enlisting in the armed forces. That would help their country more.

That's right. The Secretary of War, just a few months after Pearl Harbor, told this privileged group of 17- and 18- year olds not to join up. Meanwhile, the War department was recruiting 17 and 18 year olds like mad to fill out the manpower needs of a nation at war, a nation whose pre-war armed forces were something like the 18th largest in the world in terms of manpower.

Bush's father Prescott also did not want his son to enlist. To his great credit, however, Bush override the advice of Stimson and the wishes of his father; he enlisted and became a Navy pilot.

*This is an account of a secret mission in the Pacific in WWII, not to be confused with the new major motion picture "Flyboys," about the Lafayette Escadrille in WWI.

You certainly read a lot of books about WWII, don't you?
I read the Chapter 1 excerpt in the link. Wow. What a story.

Can I borrow your book when you're done?

fdr(!)gqhui-- I'm passing on this one--too tired to come up with a definition, but FDR is in it. Any takers?
Whoa, does this mean you finished that book on James Madison or whatever that you had been reading for most of a year?
It was Alexander Hamilton, and no, I got through only 19 of the 29 CDs before the library repo'd my car (where the book-on-CD was located).
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