When I was first given this assignment I did not really know what to expect. I never used Google reader or Google news before. I had never had a blog before I never saw the point in them I thought they were just for people who wanted to share their emotions with the entire world. Well I guess you could say that I was wrong. Once I got into I really started enjoying making these post and finding articles on the internet.
The post I enjoyed the most was when I was searching for a military blog to use, strictly because it was required as part of the assignment. I’m glad I was forced to do that. Going through all those military blogs really opened my eyes to what it was like to go away from everything you have ever known and be halfway around the world from those you love and everyday put yourself in harms way for the protection of others. The blog I used for my post was a soldiers’ who put out a list of things people could send if they wanted. It was very simple, shaving cream, blades, and socks. Thing I use everyday and can’t imagine going without. This assignment has really helped me look past myself and see the world around me.
Commenting on my classmates was something else that I did for this class only because it was part of the assignment. But when reading over their blogs I found the information they reported to be interesting and useful. For example the Holocaust has taken up a good deal of the class reading and when you read these horrible stories you think to yourself that can never happen again. While making these comments I found one of my classmates made a post talking about the imprisonment of people in Sri Lanka. Which got me thinking about all the things that didn’t know about just because I wasn’t pay attention to the world around me.
I hope that you enjoyed reading my blog posts and got as much out of reading them that I got out of writing them.
Recently I was read through some of my classmate’s blogs for out Literary Responses to War and Peace class at Grand Valley State University and I came across a post entitled Media Kept the Holocaust on the Downlow. This post states that the New York Times rarely ever put articles about the Holocaust on the front page of the paper, in fact the blog claims that “the 1,186 articles that the Times published during 1939-1945 about Europe’s Jews, only 26 (about two percent) of them appeared on the front page, and even those articles “obscured the fact that most of the victims were Jews.” These numbers really make me think about what would have happened to the memories of those who died at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust if survivors like Primo Levi and Vladek Spiegelman did not tell their story. Would the memory of all those millions of people be lost to time with nothing left but the remains of Auschwitz? Would the world know of the horrors that an entire race of people were made to suffer?
Asking these questions led me to another one. Is there any race of people that are now being oppressed and murdered in the same way that the Nazis oppressed and murdered the Jewish people? I think about all the technologic advances that we have made since 1945 and I think that it would be impossible for us to miss something like that. Now we have news blogs, podcasts, and many other types of news articles on the internet. It seems like the world can’t have anymore secrets. Then I am drawn to a blog post from another classmate of mine where they discuss how currently there are 289,000 Sri Lankans who live behind barbed wire fences. Maybe I don’t pay enough attention but I have never seen much about the suffering of those in Sri Lanka.
During the time of combat correspondents technological advances has made it easier for them to give their reports to those who are watching TV or listening to the radio at home. Years ago the only reports on how wars were progressing would be from written letters that would take long periods of time to reach their recipients. Currently we can see footage from overseas on the evening news. The most efficient way of receiving information is now the podcast. Podcasts can be posted on the internet and listened to anyone any time of the day, anytime of the week. Recently I listened to a podcast recorded by reporter Michael Yon from the Helmand province of Afghanistan on August 12th. He was stationed with British troops for six weeks. During his podcast he discussed the amount of time we will have to spend in Afghanistan to end this war, 100 years. He talked about the lack of troops and said they also could use more helicopters. But the most important and interesting thing about this podcast was that about halfway through you begin to hear gunfire and the launching of rockets. These background noises really helped me to realize how close reporters can get to combat. The only way in my mind to understand the danger that they put themselves in is to hear it or see it for yourself. This closeness to the action cannot be adequately described in a letter home or an article in the news paper.
Recently I read a book entitle Since You Went Away which is a collection of letters sent to soldiers from their loved ones at home. The majority of these letters were written in an encouraging fashion. They for the most part did not depict real life at home while soldiers where away. Letters were written this way so the recipients would not worry about those at home while they were overseas. Though writing the tradition letter is still a common practice the technology of today has made it hard to simply show perfect world at home. This is similar to reports who are out in the field. They can say anything but viewers or listeners can see for themselves what the situation is like where the reporter is stationed
As war wages on so do the protests. People protest wars for many reasons some because they don’t want to fight, they don’t believe in the cause, they don’t want to see their family members go to war, or they don’t want to see the death and destruction that war will inevitably cause. Recently I was reading over the BCC News website and I saw that people are again protesting British involvement in Afghanistan. One way that British citizens can support their troops is by purchasing poppies. These posters and billboards put up by the Royal British Legion have a picture on them of woman and her son who lost their husband and father to a roadside explosion in Afghanistan in 2007. Underneath their picture it reads: “For their sake, wear a poppy” A large billboard of this poster was altered to read: “For their sake, prosecute Blair.” There are many different opinions about this incident in England. The Royal British Legion claims that they are going to fix the defaced sign.
This point of view is drastically different from the view of the people on the home front during World War I and World War II. Going to war back then was seen by most to be the right thing to do and something to be proud of. Because many people believe that American or British soldiers belong in either Afghanistan or Iraq it becomes that much harder to find support for our troops who are overseas putting their lives on the line.
I do not really know how connect this article to anything that we have read in English 384. I have not really found any forms of protest from any of the writers from the World War I and World War II era. I would like to point out that no matter your political views, those fighting overseas could still use your support from home.
Recently I read Art Spiegelman’s Maus for my literary responses to war and Peace class at Grand Valley State University. I was critical of this book at first because it is written in the form of a comic but I now have to admit that I think it was one of the best books that I have read this year. I was greatly moved by this book because it was written in a way which I think can connect it to almost anyone. The story moves through a father telling his son, who was born after the war, what it was like to live through Auschwitz. Even though the people in Maus are depicted as animals I could have easily seen myself sitting at a table while my father told me a story about his past. I really like how Spiegelman put episodes in his book showing his father struggling to lead a normal life after the war. Most Holocaust memoirs do not deal with everyday life after being freed from a concentration camp.
The cartoon aspect of Maus makes a one of a kind work of art. Speigelman uses his cartoons as a way of describing what the Nazis were doing to the Jews with more than just words. Some of the images that he uses are still very moving even though they are just depicting mice and cats. There is one scene in the book where there are three mice are being hung. It really shows how powerful an image can really be. Recently I went on the United States Holocaust Museum website and saw that they are doing an exhibit on Nazi Propaganda during World War II. It is hard to understand how the pictures that they have on their website can turn an entire nation against a race of people. It is a concept I feel like I will never fully understand.
Many of us here in America can’t really say that we are living life no knowing how we are going to meet our basic needs. We more than likely will always have enough food, shelter and good clothing even if it may not be the brand that we like. Now you are ripped away from everything you own and those you love. That’s what it would be like to be part of the Jewish community in Europe during World War II. Once these people were taken from their home and their possessions had been stolen they were put on a train they were taken to a place they had never seen before they were given wooden shoes and raggedy clothes. Primo Levi discusses this and the economics it causes in his book Survival in Auschwitz. Men had barter for things that we would almost think to be worthless. Every object in Auschwitz became extremely valuable. One could get enough food for a day if they traded a single cigarette.
Recently I came across a blog written by a soldier in Afghanistan and he had posted a list of supplies that he would appreciate if those at home would send them to him overseas. We don’t normally think about this but most soldiers who are overseas do not have any of the same comforts that we take for granted here on the home front. On his list are things like wet wipes, nail clippers, hand warmers, socks. shaving cream and razor blades. Like I said all things that we take for granted. I think that everyone should take a second and think about how good we have it here in America and think about how much those who fight overseas give up to keep us free.
I know that this post does not go along with the subject of my previous blogs but when I saw the soldiers list of needs in his blog I was shocked and really thought that it was a subject that I should touch on.