It’s A Wonderful Life ~ Jimmy Stewart in WWII

Like a lot of people right around Christmas time, I love to watch It’s a Wonderful Life. 

Recently, I read this article and saw that movie in a whole new light. It’s a wonderful article. I hope you enjoy it!

Merry Christmas!

Jimmy Stewart Faced His PTSD While Acting In ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’

“There are more things in heaven and earth than in all of your philosophies, Horatio.”

This line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet came back to me when I ran across a story written by Ned Forney recently. Though there is a unique connection to my own history in part of this story, the history I encountered in Forney’s article was completely new to me. His article gave me a deeper appreciation of the man and Hollywood actor Jimmy Stewart and the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” And for his son, Lt. Ronald McLean, USMC. More on that below.

Being a “baby-boomer,” I, of course, knew that Jimmy Stewart was a WWII veteran bomber pilot, but Forney’s article revealed much more about Stewart’s military history than I had ever known. Here is some of what I learned.

 

In 1941, at the age of 33, Stewart was awarded an Academy Award Oscar as best actor for his role in the movie, “The Philadelphia Story.” But WWII had begun and shortly after achieving this highest honor in his profession, Stewart enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was asked why he enlisted at the time, given the fact that he was already at the top of his craft in Hollywood.

“The country’s conscience is bigger than all the studios in Hollywood put together, and the time will come when we will have to fight,” he answered.

 

One of the things I had not known was that Stewart was already and accomplished civilian pilot. As a result, he was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Army Air Force in 1942. Because of who he was at the time, he was assigned to making recruiting films, attending bond rallies, and to training younger pilots.

This did not sit well with Stewart, according to Forney’s article. He was frustrated. He wanted to get into the war, to fly combat missions. It wasn’t until 1944 that he was finally able to convince his superiors to let him be deployed to Europe. Their permission, as Forney explains, was reluctantly given.

 

Stewart was deployed to England with the 703rd Bomber Squadron. He piloted B-24 Liberator bombers over Germany for the next 18 months. Even there the higher ups wanted to keep him out of harm’s way, but Stewart would not have it. He volunteered himself for every mission he could. By the end of the war he was recognized as one of the most respected and decorated pilots in his unit.

Like so many who have survived the realities of combat, Stewart was not untouched by the experience of Post Traumatic Stress. According to Forney’s article, in the final months of the war, Stewart was “grounded for being ‘flak happy,’” a term that implied PTSD in that era. On one of the missions he participated in his unit alone lost 13 planes and 130 men to enemy fighters and anti-aircraft fire.

 

When Stewart came home he was clearly suffering the effects of PTSD. He had the classic symptoms: he had lost weight and looked sickly, was depressed, rarely slept and when he did he suffered terrible nightmares of planes getting hit and men screaming and falling from the sky. He lacked focus and would not talk about his experiences in the war with anyone.

Forney tells of how when Stewart got the part of George Bailey in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, whenever he did the parts where George Bailey was breaking down in the movie, the film crew recognized that Stewart wasn’t acting. “His PTSD was captured on film for potentially millions to see.”

Stewart would remain in the Air Force Reserves for another 20 years and would retire at age 60 as a brigadier general. But this was not the end of the story, and this is where Jimmy Stewart’s story came close to mine.

I did not know that when he married Gloria McLean he had adopted her two sons. One of those sons, Ronald, was a Marine Corps Lieutenant in Vietnam. And here is where the connection to my own history came into the story. In 1969, Lt. McLean served with Alpha Co. 3rd Recon Bn., 3rd Marine Division out of the Marine base at Quang Tri, Vietnam. I served with Bravo Co. 3rd Recon, 3rd Mar. Div in Vietnam until February of 1969, leaving Vietnam shortly before he arrived for his tour with 3rd Recon.

While Lt. McLean and his team were on a typical recon, 6-man patrol in the I Corps area, they came under heavy attack from NVA forces. McLean is credited with having killed 8 enemy soldiers during the firefight, but was killed in action while attempting to save one of his wounded team members. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions that day.

Since we are in the Christmas season the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” is, once again, being shown regularly on TV. I am going to make a point of seeing it again this year, but I imagine that I will be seeing and feeling things this time that I have never seen and felt before.

Posted in America, Americans, Angels, Christmas, Courage, Faith, Faithfulness, Family, Freedom, Generations, History, Humor, It's A Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart, Life, Old Movies, The Human Spirit, Tragedy and Triumph, Tribute, Uncategorized, World War II | Leave a comment

Only For You, My Friend

It is safe to say that I have no problem with mixed race marriages. Of course, when I first got married I had to be told that I had a mixed race marriage, but I was a non-thinking 19 year old and that’s beside the point. My next statement is going to sound strange, but here goes.

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Posted in Anniversary, China, Chinese roots, Ethnicity, Humor, Husbands, Jewelry, Life, Marriage, Travel, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spit Update ~ Part 2

Have you noticed how quickly televisions are updated? New technology here, bigger screens there, make them thinner, make them crisper, as Mom would say, “They have everything, but birth control” and she’d pretty much be right. (If you think about it, the amount of time spent in front of the TV may cover the birth control part, too!) Every year you could buy a new television and it would be far superior to the one you just purchased the year before. That’s technology and, as they say, it’s here to stay.

I’ve recently discovered that our DNA can be updated almost as frequently as our TV’s and for some of the same reasons new technology, and additionally, more spit. It seems the more spit samples they have the more specific they can be as to regions and areas and all of that fun stuff. Just Recently all of our spit has gotten an upgrade.

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Posted in Change, China, Chinese roots, Differences, DNA, Ethnicity, Family, Fathers and Mothers, German roots, Humor, Irish Roots, Italian Roots, Italians, Life, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Surprise!

We were at my childhood home in Whippany, NJ and had just said good-bye to family friends. Almost as soon as we closed the door, there was a knock. It was our Pastor’s wife and her daughter…from Florida.

To say we were surprised would be a massive understatement. I couldn’t imagine why they were there, but even more surprising was the way our pastor’s wife was dressed! I’m not sure if it was the thigh-high stiletto boots or the plaid mini-skirt, that grabbed my attention; but then, it could have been the cropped sweater showing 3″ of  skin. It was only 30 degrees outside! I guess the matching floor length cape was enough to keep her warm. Her hair and makeup looked beautiful. They always do.

The mother and daughter greeted us warmly with their twin dimpled smiles and handed me a big bowl of homemade rice pudding. Truly a favorite of mine, I had no idea how they knew. I took it gratefully and did my best to avert my eyes and ignore the completely out of character choice of clothing. Then, horror of horrors, the daughter asked me, “Roxanne, don’t you LOVE Mom’s outfit?” [If I had a surprise emoji, this is where it would be.] What should I say? What could I say? Should I lie? This was OUR PASTOR’S WIFE! I stammered. I stuttered. And then…

I woke up. I woke up and I laughed.

Big, giant sigh of relief…

Do you ever wonder why we dream the things we dream? In the Bible, dreams are prophetic and I’m sure, for some people, they still can be today. Fortunately for all, I feel that I can say with absolute certainty, my dreams are not prophetic. You’re welcome. My pastor’s wife would never wear an outfit like that in 30 degree weather. Okay, okay, she probably wouldn’t wear it any other time either.

As far as interpretation…Maybe I always wanted to wear thigh-high stiletto boots? Nah. My legs are short. I think the boots would come up too high and I would chafe. Maybe I miss my mini-skirt wearing days? Probably not. Nobody really wants to revisit their teenage years. I have no idea about the cropped sweater and cape. BUT, maybe, weird people have weird dreams! Simple, but true.

Here’s the reality…

Mom and I were talking about her making rice pudding for Christmas.

That’s all I’ve got.

It’s okay, because it’s really not that big a deal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Bible, Biblical Dreams, Childhood, Childhood Home, Christians, Christmas, Clothing, diversity, Dreams, Embarrassing moments, Family, Fashion, Florida, Food, Friends, Home, Humor, Interpretation of Dreams, Life, Moms, Mother Daughter, New Jersey, Pastor's Wives, Rice Pudding, Shoes, Uncategorized, Women | Leave a comment

A Public Service Announcement

 

Today, the day I write my blog, is Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. Today I will be elbow deep in Turkey, not the country, just the bird. For that reason, I will make this blog short and sweet…just like me. Okay, okay, I may not always be sweet, but I have the short part down pat!

I am thankful for many, many things not the least of them being all of you! Thank you for reading my blog. I am so happy to hear that it made you smile or laugh, that is its purpose. I wish you and all of your loved ones a Very Happy, Very Blessed Thanksgiving!

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Today, when you bow your heads to pray, remember Jesus, the Reason for every season!

All else is really, not that big a deal!

 

 

Posted in Americans, Attitude, Family, Friends, Humor, Life, Prayer, Thanksgiving | Leave a comment

I Am Not 600 Years Old…

I only look that way sometimes.

Okay, a few weeks ago I announced, “Well, I’m 60 Now” and I am. However, towards the bottom of that post I said, “And so began my grand entrance into my 60th decade.”

Oops.

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I was quickly and gently informed by both of my Fairy Blog Mothers, that it was only my 6th decade. They are quick, wise women; but then they are Fairy Blog Mothers! Although, I do tend to think the speed of their correction may have something to do with the fact that they are both slightly older than I am and have no desire to even think about living life in their 60th decade, I get it.

I like to say I have a ‘no-math mind’ and that’s pretty much true, but if I’m being honest, I can do math, I really just don’t like it. Explanation. Midway through my sophomore year of high school I had mono. I also had Mr. Knarr as a math teacher. I’m not sure which was worse. Anyway, I’d missed so much of my Geometry class that I needed tutoring and even with the tutoring I was told I would need at least a 90 average to pass for the year or I’d have to take the class again. And so I did something I’d never done before. I studied. You see, I was one of those lazy, but fortunate students who didn’t have to study. I flew by the seat of my pants for almost all of my classes and, somehow, always carried an A or B average (except, of course, in math). I’m not proud of it. Nevermind.  Yes, I am.

Can I tell you, Geometry is much easier when you study! I had a 98 average that semester. How about that! The following year, I took Algebra 2. I’m not sure why. I must have been coerced by my guidance counselor or found out that cute guys would be in the class. Either way, I somehow ended up with Mr. Knarr again. I sensed immediately that this was not a good thing. At the end of our first class, Mr. Knarr asked if he could speak to me. When everyone else had gone he told me, “I know what grade you are capable of. What I saw last year, I will expect to see this year.”

Guidance counselors and cute guys aside, I immediately decided that nobody needed Algebra 2 that badly. I knew what I had to do and I was determined to do it. I went home and asked my Dad, who I knew didn’t like Mr. Knarr, to please let me drop the class. And, so I did. I may have a no-math mind, but I’m not stupid. Sophomore Geometry became my math swan song.

All that to say, I get it now…60 X 10 years is 600; 6 X 10 years is 60. I am now one month into my 6th decade but it’s really, not that big a deal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like first thing in the morning, after a night where I wake up and lay there staring at the ceiling for so long that

Or when the heat turns on in our Florida home and my body feels like it’s in a food dehydrator. I can feel all of the moisture that was once mine beings sucked right out of my body.

Posted in Aging, Attitude, Blogging, Challenges, Decades, Discipline, Fairy Blog Mothers, Family, Friends, Getting Old, Growing Up, High School, Humor, Life, Math, Students, Teachers, Teaching, Turning 60, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Stories of a Little Man

It was a very early morning, 5:00 a.m.,  and I went across the street to our daughter’s house to watch the supposedly sleeping children while she drove her husband to the airport for a business trip. I was about halfway through my morning coffee, so I was fairly ‘armed’, but nothing quite prepares you for the onslaught that is Gavin.

Remember my Rachel Stories? Well, Gavin is her son. (You know where this is going, right?) When Rach was little I secretly prayed that she would somehow come to a realization of all she put us through with her incessant talking. When I was little my mother had that same prayer. I was often made to stand by the dishwasher in the kitchen at dinnertime, so I would stop talking to everyone at the dining room table and eat my food. I made Rachel play a game to see if she could be quiet for 5 minutes, usually while I was preparing dinner. I would set the timer. She never could do it. Gavin is asked to stop talking on a daily, almost hourly, basis. Evidently, the need to express ourselves verbally is generational and very strong.

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Of our 7 grandchildren, only the first one is a girl. The other 6 are all boys. Gavin is number 5 in the line up, with 2 more boys following. He is a “little man”. At 9 years old, he is the average size of most kindergartners.

As far as quirkiness, all of our grandchildren are quirky and adorable in their own way; but none is quite so quirky or talkative as Gav.

And so he came out of his room at approximately 5:05 a.m.,  a.k.a. as soon as his mother left, still somewhat bleary-eyed, and began his diatribe which he obviously woke up thinking about. (FYI, this is written in one ongoing sentence because that is the way it was related to me, quickly, all in one breath, non-stop, pure Gavin.)

“You know what Disney movie I wish was never made (This was to be my greeting.) the Hunchback of Notre Dame I wish they never made it I don’t like that Quasimodo can never leave and I don’t like when Esmeralda dances it’s inappropriate and then when Quasimodo goes out they tie him up and throw fruit at him that’s not nice and you know what in Hunchback the voice of one of the fruit guys is the voice of Patrick in Sponge Bob and when he’s a baby they call him a demon Frollo gets what he deserves I don’t know this but I think there’s a Bible story where Jesus was tied up and he broke out and broke down the building (That was Samson, but in Gav’s defense, it was still early and he doesn’t drink coffee. He goes on.) in the classic version ending Nana I think Esmeralda is already dead also in the classic version Quasimodo I think is deaf and he has prickles all over his face.”

It’s okay, I couldn’t keep up with it either. But, you get the main idea. He doesn’t like The Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney cartoon.

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Lately, Gavin has been very loving. Hugging me, pretty much, whenever he sees me. This has not always been the case. Just last year, Gavin and I had the following chat. Obviously, I caught him on a bad day.

 

 

“Gavin, can I have a hug?” A simple request from a grandmother. One that would normally be greeted positively, I thought.

He responded with a quiet sound of dismay. “What day is this, Nana?”

“It’s Tuesday, Gav.”

“No. Not today, Nana. Maybe Thursday. On Thursday you can have a hug.”

And so I waited.

When Thursday came, I had to remind him. He was reluctant, but he is a man of his word. I got my hug. Kind of. I kneeled down and opened my arms. He leaned in to me, arms limp at his sides, and allowed me to hug him.  I did. Some days you just take what you can get. By the way, this picture was not taken on Halloween. This is just a typical day for Gavin.

As you can see, Gavin does his own “thing” regardless of the thoughts of those around him. He has no agenda, he just lives life to its fullest like every 9 year old should. I think like most 9 year olds, he knows that this life is pretty much not that big a deal.

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Posted in Childhood, Children, Coffee, Disney, Family, Generations, Grandmother, Grandson, Growing Up, Home, Hugs, Humor, Life, Love, Moms, Prayer, Talking, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Uncategorized | Leave a comment