One Great Depression was enough

Bruce Maples (bruceinlouisville@gmail.com)
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A guest essay by Bill Ellis


“Daddy, I’m so sleepy, I can’t stay awake.”

“That’s OK, Buck, you go on to sleep.”

I am now nearly 79 years old, but when only four years old I can recall as if yesterday, my father kissing me good bye. “Buck,” was his nickname for me. No one else ever called me that.

The place was a motel near Camp Atterbury, Indiana, and he was about to join up with his replacement unit for the long rail trip across America in late 1944. Then came the even longer voyage across the Pacific to Luzon.

Some relatives, I don’t recall whom, bundled me off to a bed in a nearby motel. My mother and father spent a night together, not knowing if they would ever see each other again.

All of this came to mind recently, vividly, as I looked at some old photographs. A picture my mother sent to her husband in the Philippines. In a bathing suit, no less.

I have a picture of my father before combat, a smiling self-assured infantryman, a photo probably made at Camp Hood, Texas. Months later, a snapshot dated August 18, 1945, shows a rather gaunt man, looking past the camera with “a thousand-yard stare.” He had seen too much of war.

My story has been repeated thousands and thousands of times. Men and women go off to war, sons and daughters fearful they may never see a parent again. And, thousands of times the parent does not return safely.

And, now we have in the White House, a man, whom even many Republicans admit, is a “pathological liar.” And he is stirring up trouble with our old allies, possibly breaking up the grand alliance that saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reuniting of Germany.

This comedian is “Commander-in-Chief”?

And he is cavorting with Putin! What will be the outcome of that?

Historians are not forecasters of the future. However, a gentleman who handles investments for my wife and myself pointed out in a newsletter that after the 2016 elections, for the first time since 1928 and the election of Herbert Hoover, the Republican Party held the White House, both houses of Congress, and control of many state houses and legislatures.

I could not help but email him that I hoped history did not repeat itself. One Great Depression was enough.

For the first time since 1928, the Republican Party holds the White House, both houses of Congress, and control of many state legislatures. I hope history does not repeat itself. One Great Depression was enough. (Dr. William Ellis)Click To Tweet

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Dr. William Ellis retired from Eastern Kentucky University as Emeritus Foundation Professor of History in 1999. He is the author of over thirty refereed journal articles, as well as six books, the latest being Irvin S. Cobb: The Rise and Fall of an American Humorist.

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