Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Where Have the Flying Fortresses Gone?

Because of a chance discovery of two WWII photo albums that we found stored in Dad's hangar recently, I have had a unique opportunity to reflect on our Nation's past in a way that few in my generation have. Initially, it was an exciting look at original photo prints from WWII with real B-17 action shots. But deeper into the pages was the almost forgotten story of one man, who like many, played a small but crucial role in bolstering the strength of our nation in war time. This war was like none that have been known by my generation and younger. When you think of the 12,000 plus Flying Fortresses that were manufactured in contribution to the War effort, add to it the many other aircraft, tanks, ships, and other machinery, then you think of the many people it took to keep each vehicle war-worthy (not necessarily airworthy), it gives you a feeling of awe at the enormity of the effort. It was beyond supporting the troops. It was beyond making and maintaining planes. It went beyond answering the call of duty. I have concluded that to win that war, required a National uprising of strength and courage. I believe it was God's intervention to help a Nation that feared Him and honored Him. To many who are a generation older than me, this is not a new concept. They lived it. They were a part of something GREAT! But oh... so costly. Perhaps God views it a His divine sacrifice. It begs the questions... will our Nation ever face such adversity again. What will happen? Are we up to the sacrifice? Will God intervene again?

I've become concerned that this country is experiencing a snowball of a generational decline. Americans are losing the strength we once knew.

None of us have any idea
how these scrapbooks ended up in dad's Hangar. And Dad , bless his heart, cannot even remember how they got there. These albums contained over 200 photos (some are attached) from a commissioned officer who served in the European Theater under the Mighty 8th Air Force as a B17 repair engineer. They contain page after page of crashed and repaired B17s among other photos that documented much of the work done by heavy bombers during the European campaign. Literally a historical treasure - yet an heirloom to the family of Mr. Charles Wachendorfer, Jr. We faced the dilemma about what to do with these albums. To keep a long story short... I ended up locating this man's son and subsequently turned the albums over to his family. This became a BIG DEAL emotionally and other ways to them because the family had been unaware of this man's involvement in the War effort. He had kept this a secret part of his life. His descendents were sheltered from this major emotional time in their dad's life. This got me to thinking about those of us in my generation and younger who have limited resources to imagine what kind of strength it took for this nation to rise up and defeat the Axis forces of the world. The scale of the WWII effort is unfathomable for me and my generation.

We and younger Americans, I fear, have grown content in taking the hard-fought victories of our past for granted.
This country has forgotten how to work for the common good of our nation. We've put God out of our thoughts and our actions show it. We've forgotten what sacrifice means. We rest on the laurels of our past and depend on the elected politicians to run the show. I fear that if we don't wake up our sleeping younger generations, our children are going to be awoken one day to a nation in ruin. We must teach them about the past... and we must teach them about God.

Oh... and about the final disposition of the photos. It is up to the Wachendorfer Family. However Charles Wachendorfer III tells me he intends to turn them over to a museum or library. I have recommended the library-archives at the University of Texas at Dallas or the Airpower Museum, Blakesburg, IA.

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