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Donna Brinkman Twombly of Eagle Lake is a writer and historian.
This holiday season, we are at war. On many recent days, the body count has been around the same as 9/11. Since the start of 2020, the enemy has killed more Americans than World War II.
Let’s think back to how the Allied nations were able to win World War II. The outcome of the war was not certain, even with the entry of the U.S. Across Europe, nations on both sides were dependent upon a total mobilization of civilians to support the war effort. This is called “total war.” The entire nation sacrificed their way of life — it was considered a badge of honor to
willingly send your children to battle, to submit to rationing of food such as sugar, butter, edible oil, fuel oil, firewood, tires and automobiles. Recycling was important to the war effort.
The American Fat Salvage Committee asked people to save the fat rendered by cooking food such as bacon to be used in bomb making. Disney created a Mickey Mouse and Pluto video to show in movie theaters to publicize this program.
My mother told stories of not having elastic bands (made with rubber) or nylon to use to make clothing — panties were fastened with buttons or fabric ties. One day, she was with her friends in Caribou when she felt her panties slipping off. Embarrassed and humiliated, she simply kept walking, leaving them lying on the sidewalk.
My mother’s siblings worked in VA hospitals, factories, or served in the armed forces. My uncle Frank Harmon was in the Army. Before D-Day, the U.S. invaded Africa on Nov. 8, 1942, and advanced into Italy on Sept. 9, 1943. Casualties were high, but uncle Frank survived.
The entire family was spread across the globe during the war years, and there were no large family gatherings over the holidays. Before the war, the Depression had made it necessary for the siblings to work far from home, and lack of funds meant travel was impossible.
Sacrifices for the greater good and for the good of the individuals in the family were a way of life. We are at war.
Sacrifices must be made now for the good of our families and our nation. We have communication technology that makes it possible to talk to and even view family and friends wherever they may be.
This Christmas, the sacrifice that is asked of all of us is simple. Stay put for the holidays. Eat Christmas dinner with only those who live in your household. Attend religious services via the internet — we are told that wherever we may gather in His name, we will find God. Wear a mask whenever you are around anyone who does not live in your household.
Look forward to this time next year, when we can look around our table and see the faces of all those who survived this war. This time next year, we will have to stop celebrating long enough to remember those who didn’t survive this war, which will likely be more than half a million precious souls unless we all take sacrificing for the sake of our fellow humans a little more seriously.