General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force.
Thirty-forth President of the United States of America.
An American soldier.
An “American soldier”.
Plain. Straight forward. No descriptive.
But as a simple question… Was he ever referred to as a “German-American” soldier? After all, he is of German descent.
Or as a “Kraut”? No insult intended whatsoever.
I don’t know.
How about General Charles Willoughby?
Never heard of him?
He was General Douglas MacArthur’s right-hand man. Chief of Intelligence during and after World War II. G-2. My dad’s boss’ boss.
An American soldier.
Did you know Willoughby was born in the town of Heidelberg, Germany, the son of Baron T. von Tscheppe-Weidenbach from Baden, Germany? A royal German family. His real name was Adolf Karl Tscheppe-Weidenbach.
He spoke German fluently. And spoke English with a heavy accent.
Was he referred to as a “German-American” soldier?
Or as a “Kraut”?
I don’t know.
How about my two uncles who received the Congressional Gold Medal? Or even my dad?
An American soldier.
Unlike Willoughby, dad was born here. In Seattle.
He spoke both English and Japanese without an accent. And Ike didn’t speak German.
Is there any difference in Dad’s summer uniform in comparison to Ike’s?
Well, I guess there is a difference. Ike’s has five stars; Dad’s doesn’t… Oh, and Dad’s is wrinkled.
But unlike Ike and General Willoughby, soldiers like Dad were referred to as “Japanese-American” soldiers. Even today. Or just plain “Jap” back then…even when in uniform.
Even in newspapers. Here is one on my Uncle Paul who was bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal two years ago.
Don’t get me wrong. There is no intent to ruffle feathers. Or to be accusatory or express anger. And I certainly am not calling our 34th President a “Kraut”.
This is just history… Albeit, perhaps, from an odd vantage point.
But why is there a distinction made?
Are we – Americans in a broad stroke of the keyboard – bringing attention to minorities in too great a lawyer-driven focus? But considering the popular vote, my friends, the minorities are no longer minorities. Let’s face the facts.
From history, we need to learn. Yes. And we need to look at ourselves as of today… but with a helluva lot fewer lawyers. (Did I write that?)
And people need to be “working” to the best of their ability… to live on their own ability instead of an expectation of assistance. As a fellow blogger so eloquently wrote in “The Value of Ability“, we need to tighten up this ship and boost a person’s confidence that they do have potential and to live up to those expectations.
It’s time to move on from minority recognition…in whatever shape or form. Hiring requirements. College enrollment requirements. Special program requirements. Especially within governments – local, state or federal… Especially in our schools. How about hiring a conservative to be a teacher once in a while..? In my humble opinion, of course.
Time to promote “American-ism”.
Ike would have liked that, I’m sure.
31 thoughts on “Ike, a German-American Soldier”
Hyphenated sucks. It’s a matter of looking the same. Northern European males all look the same. Their names are simple and fit American English. Look different. Put a vowel at the end of your name. You’re hyphenated.
It’s not right. It is human nature.
Hey, Dolph… I hope Sandy left you and your loved ones without much damage…and certainly without injury…aside from the election, anyways.
Thank you for visiting this blog. I do agree its not right and sort of agree on “human nature”. People can be nice – look at Old Man Jack. He also moved on and make a good life for himself and didn’t seek pity for his WWII-bred PTSD of the worst kind.
Sandy missed us. I have friends in NJ who were not so lucky. Once again, our government is doing an awful job of disaster recovery.
Koji you make your point so eloquently. I will say that in promoting “American-ism” there should be room to appreciate the differences from where we all originated.
What a great post. It gives me many things to think about.
I started out writing you a very long response. But maybe I’ll do it by email and start a discussion.
You have a great voice Mustang.Koji, I’ve been telling you this!
No, not I, Chatter Master, but thank you for your support!
Mustang.Koji. A voice for your father. And a very poignant one at that.
This is a fantastically written, heart-felt post. I wholeheartedly agree. Teddy Roosevelt spoke these words that unfortunately then, as now, are still ignored:
““In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”
Bravo. Too bad his distant cousin loved to sign Executive Orders.
Well said Koji!, well said!
Thank you, Nancy… but I hope no one got their feathers ruffled…
No ruffling here my friend, it is just the hard reality of our unfair history.
You are correct to the Nth Degree ! Bear with me a minute… A long time ago I had a bigoted boss. After years of tolerating this, I finally told him how I felt. “Well, white, black or whatever really makes no difference. You brag about being a Christian. Well, just remember, God made all of us, white, black, yellow, brown, red, or whatever, and God doesn’t make mistakes. So if you want to put down something God made, you go right ahead. I want no part of it.” I never heard another biased remark in my presence again.
Touche, sir. We do need to look at ourselves. Unfortunately, so do the bozos on Capitol Hill…
I agree !
Yes, the folks in Washington need to be the 1st ones to look at themselves…I agree !
Koji, I can’t answer your question why Americans looked differently at Japanese-Americans versus German-Americans. But I read a book about Europe during WWII a few years ago that discussed the fear Germans living in England had for their lives. Using that logic, it might be attributed to who declared war on who. Germans were bombing London, not US. Japanese were bombing US. Could be a reason.
Also, you might find conservative teachers in non-union school districts or for-profit schools. Union workers tend to line up with liberal “thinking”.
Kevin, I guess since I’m not a professional writer, my “message” is jumbled up…a lot! The concept I was trying to put out was that I always believed this focus on “minorities” was overdone. Still is today. But 70 years ago – or even before war broke out – a lot of folks did not care for the “Japanese” living here. Perhaps it was their in-bred industriousness or the possibility of war looming on the horizon. But when Pearl Harbor did occur (which I believe FDR allowed to happen), it became a very personal war.
Well said, I have often wondered that too…I can say though my mother had a lot of rude remarks to her about being German when I was growing up in the 60s. It is a sad part of our history.
I hope you were not subjected to that yourself; I was. But some of my old school friends always shielded me from those few who chose to shout the J-word. When you think about it, it was only 15 years or so after a bitter war’s end. Perhaps many of their family member’s participated in that war…
Probably. Being raised in the military we were blessed to know some wonderful people from all over and never thought of someone’s color or race. It wasn’t until dad retired that we were exposed to the ignorance of others. I am sorry you and your family had to deal with it on a larger scale. Mom tried so hard to get rid of her accent and swore she did not have one. Tom still laughs over that and she has been gone 30 yrs now. 🙂
My 1st grade teacher used to vehemently call me a “Little Nazi” due to my accident of birth – born to American parents in a German hospital, I had a German birth certificate, and thus had to be naturalized when I was 16 yrs old.
“Anyone can be President!” she’d loudly exclaim to the class, then turning and pointing at me she’d say: “Except YOU – you little Nazi!” I can (now) only assume she lost someone during the war, and when my mom got wind of it the teacher’s behavior mostly stopped.
However, I cannot imagine how it felt – betrayed? Burned? – by your own country when they put your family in the internment camps. You would expect these people to feel bitter hatred – but no, they went on to serve their country, the very one who had incarcerated them for no good reason other than their birth, and maybe the birth of their parents. The fact that they went on to serve speaks for their manhood and dedication to THIS nation – the one they adopted as their own. And I am rather proud of them.
America was made – and is – a land of immigrants. Aside from the Native Americans, we always have been. People should set aside their differences and join in a union towards a common good as soon as they cross the border – illegally or not. And some of the best of us have come from other countries. America is, if nothing else, a very diverse land.
Tell your father ‘Thanks’ from me, BTW. He may not know what it is for, but he deserves it. For his effort and work during the war.
Wow… While some punks would use bigoted words during elementary school, none of my teachers ever called any student anything but by their names. I feel sorry for you. It was totally uncalled for but then again, war takes its toll on entire families…some for decades.
Thank you for your thoughts about what happened to people like my dad during the war years. Many did join the US Army to show their patriotism although the remainder of their families likely remained in camp. Twenty-two of these young men were bestowed the Medal of Honor.
LOL – that teacher. I was so confused. I didn’t have a *clue* what a Nazi was. But this was what – about 20 yrs after the end of WWII and in the rural South in a new school. I didn’t know if being a Nazi was bad or something – just that it affected my chances of becoming President, LOL!
Guys like your dad – it is almost baffling how much they gave despite what was done to them and their loved ones. A great love of country I guess is what it shows. As I observe you seem to have (as well as some grief and complaints, too – just like the rest of us, LOL!). But if I could I would give him a warm shake of his hand, congratulate him, and thank him for what he’s done. Whether he remembers it or really realizes it or not.
Many stories from that war. Sad to see our older vets going. Wasn’t that long ago (if I recall) that the last WWI vet took his last call . . .
I am a big Ike fan and I love your stories.
I think that the essence of the American experience is that we, as individuals, define ourselves. Sure, we come from a diverse background of cultures, races, and religions. But, when we become Americans, we stand for something different. That something is an abiding respect for the liberties we all share.
Bigots may attempt to redefine us, but they are not big enough to take all of us on.
My Dad fought in WWII as a platoon leader and then company commander in the Philippines. My hat’s off to both our dads.
I, too, admire Ike. From the war, my admiration is high for (1) Ike for his unmatched ability to work with egotistical commanders and his handling of Russia, (2) Patton although his command decisions have come under scrutiny in the past years, (3) Yamamoto for his understanding of Western culture, and (4), Rommel. He was a true genius and loyal to his nation.
Your dad… Was he in the 11th Airborne out of curiosity? 6th Army? Indeed, our thanks to them for our liberties today.
Some good stuff here, both from you and your responders. Keep it up.
Visited Flicker and saw that beautiful picture of your American Dad (pun intended)…
It brought me here.
Glad I did.
My thoughts exactly about how people viewed minorities back then and still do. Canada did the same with Japanese people in WWII. Took time to apologize also…
So solly… (pun intended)
I have shared my thoughts with you privately on this matter, and that is sufficient I think … except to say that this is an outstanding post and one that should have far more exposure. I tweeted it.
I didn’t know Marines tweeted… or is it twerked? J/K! J/K! Thank you, Mustang.