1939 to 1945, men, too old to enlist, bought maps just like this one to follow the progress of the wars in Europe and the Pacific.
They would see the Front Lines — offensive and defensive lines, the Allied armies seen in blue with their various country Flags denoting positions held.
The Axis, the Enemy lines, shaded in red, not only because red was the main colour in the flags of Germany and Japan, but red meant Bad, it stood for the Enemy and his fiery attacks, and it was seen as a beacon of warning to fight at all cost, and to win.
Each night, those same men — while their wives busied themselves in the kitchen, collecting cooking fat and oil, cutting the tops and bottoms out of tin cans, and figuring out tomorrow’s menu on whatever her ration card would allow — would fire up the transistor radio, aka the wireless (it took many minutes, not the mere turn of a dial), pack his pipe full of fresh tobacco, light it and puff away as he gleaned the latest front-line developments, adding his own set of blue and red lines, noting the date of each advancement, sighing as he penned in a needed retreat, or as the War Department buzz-worded it — a “fighting withdrawal”.
Yes, the CBS World News, the BBC, and Canada’s own CBC radio would give the day’s blow-by-blow accounts — towns taken, Number of enemy captured or killed, and of course, the awful numbers, too, on our side.
The house would fall quiet in that evening hour, and if there were young children, they knew well to be seen and not heard.
It was war.
And it was awful.
But those Home Front men and women, who were too old to fight, could keep track of the enemy and feel as if some semblance of order was at hand.
Flash forward to 2017…some 70+ years later…
There are no maps.
There is no identifiable enemy.
There is no recognizable uniform and their flags are all made up.
There is no one or two bad countries.
There’s only an extremist religious ideology, fuelled by jealousy and hate for a cultural far advanced than theirs.
And a Front Line? No amount of maps will show.
So, in 2017, I’m that man or that woman, and I can instantly fire up my cell phone news app, and I can sip at my energy drink or light up my E cigarette, and no matter how much the radio hosts talk, no lines can I make on a non-existent map.
I’m 53. And there is no semblance of order for me. I can fall asleep tonight and in the wee hours, the Front Line will have been moved by a rampaging box truck or a high-tower machine gun, and the counted dead and wounded are civilians, not soldiers, and their numbers are staggering.
The captured will be one, and he will most likely be dead, and his end will not move one inch the Front Line in our favour.
I want a war map.
I want those fold-out pieces of colour-coded paper.
I, as a civilian, want a semblance of order to the chaos around me, and knowledge that I know who and where my enemy lies.
My war no longer needs those propaganda production posters to encourage me to save my fat
or crush my tin.
Such activities held for those women a sense of purpose and a goal — one more can of fat, another bundle of tin, and I too am fighting the “Hun” and the “Japs”, and as Churchill says, We shall win!
What could I have kept and crushed to stop the attacks in Paris, Belgium, Edmonton, Las Vegas and New York?
What line on what paper could I have drawn to show where my enemy was in those cities?
Where were the uniforms and the soldiers wearing them readied to fight on this Front Line?
|Courtesy New York Times|
And what will happen to Us All when the Home Front is that Front Line?