Clare Boothe Luce in Stars and Stripes - 1945 Soldier's Tour of Duty
War was raging in Europe as well as in the Pacific theater of operation in the year 1945. The Stars and Stripes newspaper printed for those members of the U.S. Armed Forces kept the men (it was primarily men back then who were doing the soldiering) apprised of the war effort as well as other things such as sports scores at home and other things of interest.
An article on the front page of the January 4, 1945 edition of the Stars and Stripes covered Clare Boothe Luce's opinion as to how tour of duty home leaves should be handled. It is interesting comparing her recommendations back then to how furloughs are being handled today.
Two of these Stars and Stripes newspapers were saved by my mother-in-law, one from 1944 and the object of this post from 1945. They are both yellowed with age but shed some interesting information about the history of those times. They were in my mother-in-law's possession which has since fallen into our hands when she died. Her soldier husband would have been the one who sent them to her and they were tucked away with postcards and other communications from him.
Clare Boothe LuceClick thumbnail to view full-size
Clare Boothe Luce
This was an educated and interesting lady who among other things was an editor and journalist and even a playwright in her lifetime. Clare Boothe Luce was politically active and became a U.S diplomat and also a U.S. Congresswoman for the State of Connecticut. She also became a well known feminist.
An article interviewing her was one that caught my eye while looking at this vintage newspaper from the mid part of the last century. Apparently more foot soldiers were needed back then much as they are today. Some of the following text is what journalist Clare Luce had to say on the subject of necessary home leaves back in 1945.
Stars and Stripes
Tour of Duty' Home Leave Urged for Joes was the title of the old Stars and Stripes newspaper article in which Clare Boothe Luce was being interviewed and giving her opinions.
- Mrs. Luce was recommending that combat troops should have similar leaves as did those who were affiliated with the Air Corps who apparently served for a set amount of time and then became "eligible for relief or furlough" during World War II.
- The article stated that "a certain division in Italy has had 400 days of actual combat, casualties have been heavy and eventually the men get into the frame of mind in which the only future they see is death." She further declared in the article that more foot soldiers were needed.
- Descriptions of them read like this: "The infantryman, slugging it out in mud up to his hips, always wet, always cold, needs more recognition at home." That last sentence still rings true today whether soldiers are in wet or dry desert like conditions.
From the Stars and Stripes Article
"Four questions were asked by almost every soldier Mrs. Luce spoke with, she said. These were:
1. - Do we have to fight in the Pacific when the European war is won?
2. - How soon do we get home after the shooting ends?
3. - Will I find a job I like waiting for me?
4. - How are we going to prevent a repetition of this war?"
Are soldiers all that different from 1945 to today? I think not. Those employed in the service of our country (or any country for that matter) are probably thinking similar things today. Where will they be deployed next? When will they get to come home and be reunited with their friends and families? Will they be able to find or resume doing a job? And will there ever be peace?
A newscast viewed just a night or two ago on one of our major networks spoke about our veterans who return from war and how they fare as a statistic regarding homelessness.
While the war in Iraq and in Afghanistan have both scaled back our interests in aiding both countries and others against the onslaught of terrorism continues.
There are no easy solutions to this ongoing struggle with terrorists who reside in Afghanistan and elsewhere. There are also no absolute rights or wrongs in the decisions that have to be made but horrible shades of gray. No matter what is decided upon some people will ultimately lose and pay dearly whether we are talking about the Afghans who wish to live peacefully in safe environs or our soldiers who may be injured or have even paid the price with their lives in defending freedom.
The television report stated that in past wars like Vietnam and others it often took about 10 years or more for our veterans to join ranks of the homeless on our streets. Now it is taking as little as a year on average! That is shameful and it would seem that the issues of our veterans are perhaps being better addressed physically rather than psychologically. Multiple tours of duty and redeployment after redeployment are to blame according to the news report.
It seems almost miraculous to me that any soldier in the thick of battle can come home and be integrated back into so called normal society and lead a life unscathed by what he or she has endured as many have accomplished through the years. One deployment would be bad enough but just think of the damage done with one exposure after another to the perils and horrors of war.
Clare Luce saw the need for soldiers to get relief back during World War II in the year 1945. What would she think of what our soldiers have to endure today?
Do you think that there should be a limit to the number of deployments a soldier should make to a war zone?
Tours of Duty
The first "war to end all wars" much less the second world war was supposed to put an end to all of this killing and fighting but it appears that we humans are still embroiled in warfare in places around our small planet and are slow to learn lessons from history.
Sadly our soldier's tours of duty are still subject matter for concern today. While they may no longer have to fight for 400 days without relief (as mentioned in the Stars and Stripes newspaper article) the multiple deployments are causing problems of great concern to our soldiers and their families including negatively affecting their children and ultimately all of us in one manner or another.
The after effects of tours of duty in current times seem to be spinning out of control. Drug and alcohol abuse, broken marriages, increasing numbers of suicide and an ever growing homeless population is the not so pretty side of what is happening to way too many of our returning veterans.
What is the answer? Obviously a peaceful world would help and if that is just wishful thinking then what is the next best thing?
- The Army is hoping to shorten the time spent in war zones and give the soldiers more time at home before being re-deployed back into a war zone.
- Some people have proposed that everyone of a certain age devote several years of their lives to either being a soldier or doing some type of civil service if there are reasons that the military would not be suitable for physical or other reasons.
Think of the good that could come of that. Why should so small a minority of our citizens bear such a heavy burden while the vast majority do nothing at all for our country? Being a citizen should not only present one with rights but should also carry some responsibility.
What do you think of the idea of sharing responsibility of citizenship by giving a few years back to one's country either in military or civil service?
Patriotic Song...(A big THANK YOU to our troops!)
© 2011 Peggy Woods