In honor of Memorial Day, here is a story that my father told us, my brother and I, about his time in the Solomon Islands as a writer for the US Marine Corps in World War 2.
Part of the charm of studying history is to figure out what you need to know to understand the events described. People are people at some fundamental level, of course, but many other things are different and people at the time had strong opinions on topics we may have never even heard of. And things are different in subtle ways that can lead to misunderstandings when we try to understand them today.
In the little story that follows, to really appreciate the story you have to know something about the people and personalities not just during World War 2, but after the war as well, in the 1960s in America. And so while I think the significance of the story below was obvious to someone like my brother and myself, it would be less so to someone who was born in 1980 and did not know much about their own history, which is to say, most people in America.
Another part of the appeal of this little story, at least to me, is that it is possible, if one pays attention, to figure out the punchline of the story by little clues dropped along the way.