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Memorial Day and Home Fronts: World War II and Vietnam

Knowing what happens on the home front is important in any war.  How can we justly and accurately assess the historical past during wartime without thinking about the situation on the home front?

My dear friend, Pamela Neville-Sington, pointed out something I’d never considered before.  “Your mom recorded the history of two home fronts:  World War II with Home Front Girl and Vietnam.”

I hadn’t realized it before, but how true!

In the 1980s, my mother, Joan Wehlen Morrison, and brother, Robert “Bob” Kirby Morrison, wrote an oral history together:  From Camelot to Kent State:  The Sixties Experience in the Words of Those Who Lived It (Oxford University Press, Updated edition, 2001).


In that book, they record the stories of Civil Rights activists, Vietnam vets, women active in the women’s movement, campus activists, and people in the SDS [Students for a Democratic Society], Weathermen, and Black Panthers.  Additionally, there is an entire section entitled, “The War at Home.”  As they write in their foreward, the book is an attempt “to give some idea of what it was like to be living then, to add a human dimension to the black headlines and shocking scenes of those years.”

I think that’s what Home Front Girl shows too:  for the young Joan, the home front did not start on December 7, 1941, with the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  It already began after World War I, the so-called “Great War,” and never let up until a “hot war” with bullets being shot recommenced.

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