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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

When Will the War be Over??

In January of 1943, the Pantagraph reporter was asking the man and woman on the street when they thought the war might be over. General Halsey had suggested the war would be over sometime in 1943, but President Roosevelt had suggested it wouldn't be over until some time in 1944. Both were wrong, and Americans had a long wait until the end of the war, which the US had entered thirteen months earlier. Africa had been invaded by the Allies, but Germany was trampling all over Europe without hindrance. The Normandy Invasion was a long long way off, and we had not even gotten a foothold in Italy yet.

Arthur H. Pearson lived at 303 S. University Street and worked at a service station at 206 Broadway. He was about 59 years old in 1943, and had not had any part in The Great War. He felt that such great strides were being made by the US and their Russian allies that the war could be over in 1943. It wasn't going to take much longer to then whip the "Japs" as well.

Arthur M. Young was a 49 year old bank cashier of the Normal First National Bank and later President of the Bank. He had been a bank cashier since 1920, when he was married to Marie and had his only son, Lyle Young. His grave at East Lawn Cemetery reveals no military service during The Great War, so he was another man commenting with no prior experience of war. He foresaw that an actual invasion of Europe was essential and that the "softening up" of Germany with air raids was not going to cause a collapse of the German military machine. He did not foresee the war ending until a date in 1944.

Gilbert Hedrick was yet another Normal resident interviewed regarding the predicted end of the war. Mr. Hedrick was a clerk in the Jackson furniture store. He was born in 1907 in West Virginia and came to Danvers, Illinois as a boy with his parents. Gilbert was under no illusions, he knew that any opinion he had would merely be a guess, but he placed his reliance on the superior industrial prowess of the United States to end the war by the end of 1943.

Chrissie Cunningham was a 48 year old widow and assistant to the Normal Supervisor. She had been raising her only daughter alone since her husband's death in June of 1930. She felt that the war would end in 1944, but that the end of the war would only signal the beginning of another struggle -- to rebuild.

Leland W. Peyton was 48 years old in 1943, and a barber in Normal at the Keen barbershop. His grave at Park Hill Cemetery does not reveal any history of military service. He did not foresee an end to the war before 1944 and saw a long process of rebuilding after the defeat of the Axis and Japan. "Even after the battles are over with Japan, Hitler and Mussolini the trouble won't be over. Those countries will have to be policed. And they will have to be fed and educated to the right way of living."

Herbert H. Lemme was a shoe repairman in Normal. He was born in 1892, and like all the other men interviewed, had no military service at all. He was buried in Hudson Cemetery in 1973. Mr. Lemme thought that the war could not end until the end of 1944, because we were not yet fighting on German or Italian soil. Like Mr. Young, he knew that air battles alone were not going to win the war.

One has to wonder at the choice of the reporter is choosing to interview only people who had no experience of war. There were many many men in Bloomington who would have had experience of The Great War or even the Spanish American War, but none of these men were interviewed.

The pace during the war was so slow and deliberate, in retrospect, that I am surprised the people of Bloomington saw any progress at all. Our troops were fighting in the Pacific, without much success at the time. Our troops had only just arrived in Africa two months earlier (the toehold toward Italy), and American bombing on the Germans had only started in July 1942. These opinions were mostly hopeful and not based on any past military victories over the enemy, but on national pride. The United States had not experienced the wholesale slaughter that had already hit Britain, France and other European countries and we would never understand the war the way those in reach of German and Japanese guns would.

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