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March 20, 2012

"Similar, but different..."

    We all remember nine-eleven, but nine-eleven was not the first time a sky scraper in New York City was struck by an airplane. On 28JUN45 a B-25 bomber hit the Empire State Building damaging six floors with major damage between the 78th and 80th floors. There were thirteen fatalities including the three man crew on the aircraft.

    Similar... dissimilar... nine-eleven was an attack, whereas in 1945 we were still in a war with fighting in Austria and Romania; four German subs surrendered in Holland; we were still fire-bombing Tokyo; this was two days before the Okinawa invasion started; we still had three million men in Europe; we still had blackouts on the west coast.

    So, the only similarity was a plane hit a building; Everyone was pushed to the limit. The pilots were constantly flying missions in all conditions and this crew had flown nine missions in nine days in conditions so foggy there were no civilian flights. The missions were status flights - new inductees were flown to South Carolina for paratrooper training, and on this day there was heavy fog over New York City, fog which covered and obscured the Empire State Building. The tower told the pilots that there was too much fog and they should try landing in New Jersey... silence...

    Nine-eleven started something; in 1945 we were in the midst of something, it still looked like the west coast might be controlled by Japan and the east cost, well, if Hitler had not decided to go into Russia then the war may have lasted another two years longer. And manufacturing in this country was focused on the war; GMC was building tanks, planes, amphibious equipment; IBM was building weapons; Amana was building desks and chairs and field equipment. the president had just died and Truman, a little known senator from Missouri who was put on the democratic ticket because he was "acceptable, was inaugurated and became the man to make the decision to drop the atom bombs in Japan.

    So, although similar, these two events were not the same thing. Those who have served did something 97% of the population chose not to do; the 3% is the unmistakable aristocracy that needs to be appreciated. Between 1954 and 1956 11.8% of the population was veterans, but now, vets belong to a small club. When the flag goes up, if it doesn't bring a tear to your eye then I truly feel sorry for you, you may as well find a big oak tree and sit down under it and fade away until you are as dead as a $2 beaver hat. So, whey you see a vet, give him the respect he is due.

Reported by,

Brother Don "Peanut Butter" Breeland, well known Historian Extraordinaire