Recently was the anniversary of an infamous day in our American history; the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed. I was only six years old, and the memory is fuzzy in my mind. It was on a Sunday, and I wonder now how we received the news. What I do remember, however, was the frightening aftermath when our young men were called into duty to protect our country.

So many of our boys and young men were called from our home state, and parents were distraught and frightened as they were sent into active duty. Many went, and many never returned. My Grandpa “Hooge” Samples worried terribly about his grandsons, and called them “cannon fodder.” My husband Criss recalls his brother Ted (Clarence) being among the first to be called, and he was sent right into actual combat, along with thousands of others. He did return, after suffering injuries, back home.

People used to say returning veterans were “shell-shocked” and now the term is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Where he worked, in Webster County, some of the kids hanging around thought it was funny to burst a balloon or make a loud noise, to see his reaction. It was cruel. He married, fathered two boys, but died early at 46 of a heart attack. He really never recovered from the stress of war. I feel that he was another war casualty. Over 400,000 Americans were killed in WWII.

I can remember the years after the war. It was called “The War” although it was the Second World War. Gasoline and food was rationed, and we had rationing stamps to purchase these things. Sugar was in short supply, so Mom relied on saccharine to sweeten our food. I can remember the bitter aftertaste that lingered. Fortunately, Mom canned most of our food so we didn’t suffer like a lot of people did.

When the armistice was signed, ending the war, I recall our next door neighbor running out on her porch and yelling, “Decorate!” Mom asked, “What?” She hollered again, “Decorate! The war’s over!” Of course she meant “Celebrate!”

Today we live in a land seemingly untouched by the horrors of war. What is in the future? Only God knows. If ever there was a time we need to get down on our knees and prevail in prayer for our country, it is now. If God doesn’t heal our land, we are doomed. He can’t heal, unless we repent for leaving Him out of our government, out of our schools, and out of our lives. We have left His divine protection, and as a nation, we need to repent.

November has left her brown countryside to the whims of December. Snow flurries are forecast for tomorrow, as colder weather makes its way into the mountains. Christmas looms closer, and the little children are beginning to get excited as that day is near. Oh, the excitement when we were kids! We saved our pennies and nickels to do our shopping at Opal Jarvis’ general store, and debated for days on our purchases. She stocked little triangle-shaped bottles of gardenia and orange blossom perfume, which was one of our major purchases.

It did smell heavenly, and I think it cost fifty cents. There was Bay Rum for Daddy, and bright red brilliantine to put a shine on his hair. She stocked thread and needles, and a variety of hardware, including washtubs and buckets. Most of the big things were beyond our financial reach, so at times we were reduced to buying scotch tape, toothpicks and band-aids.

One time my brother Ronnie sold vegetable seeds (American Seed Company, remember?) and received as a prize a set of plastic salt and pepper shakers. He wrapped them up for Mom, and she kept them all of her life. These things are invaluable. That’s why my kids (and Criss) call me a pack rat. I simply cannot discard the things people have given me. I know that when I am gone, these things won’t mean a thing to my descendents. They won’t even know who got them for me, or the story behind it.

Merry Christmas to all! See you in the New Year!

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Alyce Faye Bragg

She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer