The air raid sirens went off. People started to scurry along for shelter and the hope of safety. Lights were being tuned off as quickly as possible. Shades, drapes and any type of window covering was used to block the light from approaching enemy bombers. And this was in Chicago during a practice air raid drill during World War II.
Our parents apartment had each window cloaked in black curtains along with the regular window blinds. Fortunately to prevent panic at these trial air raids the newspapers and radio stations broadcast the time the sirens would go off and when the "air raid" would end. During the blackout, members of the Civilian Defense force would send out their volunteer air raid wardens to make doubly sure there wasn't any light, even the tiniest pinch. If so, the warden came to your door or screamed "turn off those lights, you want the enemy to see them?"
My parents would send my three brothers and myself to our bedrooms to wait out the drill. We would lie in our beds and continually ask our parents if German airplanes would be bombing us. In our young minds we heard what we thought were plane engines flying overhead. I kid you not. We were scared. Of course, our parents continually assured us that all was going to be okay since this was a practice air raid drill. After many decades following the drills I began to question what if the real air raid occurred.
My God what could have happened? There wasn't any real shelter for our neighborhood to provide any protection between the bombs and us. We were in our second floor apartment unprotected, except for the black out. A bomb could easily have hit our building and killed many of us. However, our civilian defense corp was ready for almost any possible tragedy. All of us who lived through those tumultuous years are eternally grateful to their heroism and devotion to our country. Today in 2012 we would call them first responders.
And then the lights would come on. Neighbors would congregate and discuss what had just happened. A lot of what if's were posed. At that time in history when we thought about the possibility of air raids, folks would think "well the war is over there". They would then conclude with "you never know, these air raid drills are necessary." with each drill it gave our military and civilian leaders additional information so as to formulate additional planning.
But what about us kids? We argued about whom was the bravest during the blackout. Of course, no one would admit they were afraid and perhaps shed a few tears. After all we had entered the macho phase of our young lives. Those of us who had members of our family in the military said an air raid drill would never happen with their brother or sister in the service. They would defeat the enemy in due time and come home to parades.
Well, the war finally ended. Many of our loved ones did not come home to their loving families and parades of joy. They gave their greatest sacrifice of all, their life, so we could have the victory parade. While they weren't with us in form all of them were with us spiritually.
I am among the greatest generation who lived through the hell of World War II. We can pray our beloved country can find the peace that so many, then and now, gave up the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.
Memories light the corners of my mind and I hope yours too!.
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