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Monday, January 23, 2012

Texas in WWII

Last Thursday evening I attended an excellent workshop sponsored by the Texas Historical Commission and the South Padre Island Historical Committee at Paragraphs on Padre Blvd.

William McWhorter, Texas’s military historian, gave us excellent information and story ideas about the state’s World War II experiences. From internment camps and prisoner-of-war camps to artillery emplacements and the Coast Guard’s Sand Pounders on Padre Island, he captured the diversity of the war effort throughout the state, and most likely throughout the country.
None of us can imagine the chaos, constant fear and sacrifice of the war years. In today’s world, if a soldier goes to war, it’s far away and truly only impacts the lives of his friends and family. The average American has never known the sacrifice involved.

We’ve never lived through rationing of food and everyday supplies. We’ve never known the real shortages of goods – steel, leather and nylon are only a few - that typified the war years.
The Texas Historical Commission is committed to preserving as much of the history as possible. McWhorter’s challenge is to gather the stories and fill in the blanks of known history. The workshops are one way to encourage citizens to find the stories while the people who lived them are still with us.

It’s an effort that is ongoing across America with various programs. Steve Hathcock, South Padre Island’s own historian, has spent years researching the history of the island and surrounding areas. Visit his website (http://southpadretv.tv/here-lies-red-lady-85/) for more information on the Coast Guard Sand Pounders, the beach patrol units that guarded the island – by horseback and jeep.

When we consider government efforts at all levels, private citizens like Hathcock, WWII-era authors writing their memoirs as well as historians and researchers nationwide, we are making a huge impact on preserving the history. As we all know, time is short for those who lived through the war years.
If you know anyone who lived in that era, please help keep their stories alive. Record their stories. If you need help, there are plenty of us willing to interview and write about the events that shaped today’s world.

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