That is Woody Guthrie to the left, with his fascist-killing guitar. I am not sure if he is considered a veteran of World War II, or not. He served in the Merchant Marine and shipped out three times and his ship was torpedoed two times (although the Oklahoma Historical Society website says he had three ships torpedoed from beneath his feet). He was then drafted into the Army and Germany surrended the same day.
On one occasion, he saved the life of a shipmate and on at least one other, he made sure that the guitars made it to the lifeboats. Woody wrote books, songs, poems, drew sketches and eventually became the spiritual Father of the 1960s folksong revival movement. These days, we have people who are referred to as ‘the new Bob Dylan’, like Bruce Springsteen and a number of others. In the 1960s, Dylan was ‘the new Woody Guthrie,’ and was often dismissed as being a poor caricature, until he proved himself.
Besides serving his country in the war, Woody served before and after, singing for the starving ‘okies’ as they were abused by the system after losing all to the Great Dust Storms. Along the way he wrote songs like Bound For Glory and This Land Is Made For You And Me and other songs about the triumph of human spirit. He may not be an official veteran but he served.
Today is Veteran’s Day and we should honour those who stood in harm’s way to fight and serve. If you made it through four years in the service because a judge gave you the choice of ship or time in jail, then you really do not deserve the free lunches that the restaurants are putting on the table today. It is there for the old guys and the ones who hear the bullets flying these days.
Who am I to say? I tried to get out of the war in the usual ways. College, join before they draft you. I aced the armed forces exam with a high percentile so I had my choice of any branch. Spring 1975, the death count climbing like crazy in Viet Nam, I went for the Air Force.
Long story short – the war ended in May and there I was signed up for four years. The draft was over. Happy days were here again, sort of. Luckily, the recruiter lied to me and left gave me a reason to back out. I had a letter, an official form that said I would be inducted on such-and-such a date. I had not taken the oath, though. Whew!
In the end, Gentle Readers, the recruiter died pretty young. My mom used to tell me how many times he called looking for me. She thought he was funny and felt a little sorry for him, too, like some sympathetic character on a sitcom, or if I daresay, a book.
I had meant to blog about Lord Buckley but I got distracted somehow when somebody told me he was going to different restaurants to get some free meals. He had served in peacetime as a ‘noplace else to go move’ and should not have free pie and ice cream, really.
I’ma post war breakout
I’ma post war breakdown
I’ma post war nervroe
And a post war hero
I’ma post war skitzoe
I’ma post war freenyoe
Post war nerve case
And a post war face history
I’ma psykoe pathy crackdown
I’ma looney blooney breakdown
War shocky suki yaki boy
I got a long personality
I got a medal I’ma hero
I got an id, I got an ego
I got a pocket book and no dough
Justa post war shock job.
I’ma evil minded breakdown
I’ma vulgar thinking crackdown
I’ma lascivious lewdy nude boy
I’m a great long doctor book full.
I’ma irresponsible hobo
I’ma noncommy drifter
I’ma mad old raver loose jaw
I’ma Ex G.I. for sure sure…..by Woody Guthrie