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Letter: ‘Yank’ used to be a term of endearment, respect

‘Yank’ used to be a term of endearment, respect

I am not a boomer; born Jan. 3, 1944, I am a war baby. In my first year, my mother and I lived in an off-base hotel, provided by the Army for the brides of a company of combat engineers.

In that year, I was spoiled rotten by 60 or 70 girls, worried sick for their new husbands who were tasked to clear the beaches of Normandy of mines, obstacles and barbed wire so the infantry could fight their way ashore to liberate Europe from an unspeakably brutal gang of thugs.

In that year, in addition to working in defense plants, these remarkable girls became formidable women and somehow found the time to teach me to walk and talk.

Those of their husbands who came home in the next year or two built things, grew food for the world, joined volunteer fire companies, completed their educations and helped to feed and rebuild the nations they had just fought so fiercely to defeat.

My pastor had seen Europe through a Norden bombsight and came home to attend divinity school. Many of my public school teachers and university professors were vets, and all of my ROTC instructors were combat vets of China, Burma, India, North Africa, Europe, the Pacific and Korea.

As a result of what they had experienced in their own youth, they sought to instill in us that to be American is to be kind and generous, to be tolerant and respectful of others, to hate violence, but be ready to fight for those who cannot defend themselves.

Thanks to those people, until I was 20, “Yank” was a term of endearment and respect. How did we get from there to here?

Joseph Stuart


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