I’ve always had a decent interest in history and have often wondered how those who have come before us have shaped where we are today. What’s also thought-provoking to me, is trying to understand how each of us is a wealth of experiences – good and bad – that make us who we are in >this< moment, and then that moment is added to the past that continues to defines us. There’s this wisp of our past, following us through all our days.
WISCONSIN AT WAR was a good read for me because it kept reminding me of that idea – we are all made up of our past experiences – and to a degree, we get to determine how heavily those experiences decide who we are. WISCONSIN AT WAR is a compilation of interviews/anecdotes from various WI veterans, from various wars, in various arms of service.
What makes these stories so “real” for me is that each story ends with a brief follow-up on what that veteran went on to do. It was a good reminder of how much we may not really know about the people we encounter on a day-to-day basis. For instance, in the story of Willard and Wilber Diefenthaler “identical twins from Kiel…”, who both served in WWII, ending up at prisoners of war, a situation that ended up with Wilber dying…
After I returned home, I arranged to move his body to the American cemetery in France. Sometimes I look in the mirror and see him, even after 50 years. Thinking about him makes me cry some more.
Willard took an electronics course after the war, worked in TV repair, and ended up owning a machine shop in Kiel until he retired.
Anyone who hasn’t served, will find an even greater appreciation for our veterans from reading this book, and people who have served may find stories and feelings they recognize, and experiences they can relate to. I’m really glad I got to read this book.