Archive for December, 2008

My Interview Experience

Thursday, December 4th, 2008
     When I first read the syllabus in August, I was a little nervous about the 7-10 page paper on the horizon. I have never wrote a paper more than four pages in my whole high school career and I was very thankful that it wasn’t due for a couple of months. I put it in the back of my mind till around fall break when my grandfather came to visit. I originally didn’t want to interview him for my paper because I honestly thought that he wouldn’t give me enough material to work with. Also, I was just nervous. I never really talked to my grandfather about anything other than my grades, fishing, or baseball. I was worried that the paper would be dull and hard to write and at the same time I was scared I might uncover something emotional that would be a first coming from my grandfather.

     After debating it, I finally decided to do the interview to see how it would go and see if I had anything to work with. I drew up a list of about 20 questions, some about before the war, some during, and most of the questions were about after the war. Lacking technology, I opted to use what I learned in journalism during high school and write down notes and quotes on a note pad, making sure to get the dates and spelling correct on everything he said. The interview ran pretty smoothly with only a little bumps when I had to say slow down or say that again. My first presumption was correct, the interview was pretty dull. It wasn’t something out of the diary of Alvin York to say the least. However, my fear of things getting emotional was completely off base. There was no tears but there was one part that was sad, when he talked about the loss of his brother during the war. After I got past my uncertainty, I started to realize that this interview gave me a look into my grandfather’s life when he was just a little bit older than me. I found this inspiring because I found parallels between his life back then and mine. I took several lessons away from the interview. The first and most important was that hard work will be rewarded. The other lessons he expressed was college related and I found it very relevant as a freshman in college. I expected my grandfather to diverge and give me some lectures but I did not expect that the interview would be a non-stop flood of stories that he wanted me to include in the paper. Most of the stories were irrelevant to the topic of the paper but it was nice to learn new things about my grandfathers life. After the interview took place I decided to put off doing the paper to November. I don’t recommend anyone do this because there was several times I had to ask questions to clear up what he said, and getting a 84 year old man to remember what he meant when he said something a month ago was very difficult.

     My interview with my grandfather was easier than I thought it was going to be and I enjoyed the process. I learned new things about veterans and my grandfather at the same time. I recommend interviewing a relative because it is easy to get in contact with them and you know what to expect.


Wages of War, The Epilogue

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

     Finally, Richard Severo and Lewis Milford took the gloves off and really let the VA have it.  I understand that they have a journalist backround and they have to be objective but I could’nt imagine having to wait all the way to the end to finally say what I really felt about the VA.  When they said that the VA’s real mission was to limit the governments liability for the wages of war, I could not have agreed more.  I also enjoyed when Severo and Milford said, “The VA’s sin has been within the tradition of not old-fashioned money-filching curroption, but rather of timeless bumbledom and small mindness.”  What they basically said was that VA was just as bad or even worse than the curropt groups that swindled veterans and embezzled money before them because of their stubborness and indifference.  Throughout the epilogue, the VA continued to be bashed but there was a even more interesting topic presented.  The idea that the Vietnam veterans experience was common to all wars in American history except for WWII.  Making WWII the odd ball in the veteran experience.  It is amazing that our culture has allowed the great success of WWII to overshadow centuries of mistreatment of veterans.  It is also incredible how America’s memory is one of a goldfish when it comes to veterans.  The point that Severo and Milford made about how American culture views each mistreatment of veterans as a one time thing that will be never repeated agian was dead on.  This mentality will only leave the next generation of veterans vunerable to new mistreatment and indifference from the government.  I will admit, I did find it preachy at the end when they imaged a perfect America with a non-misleading government and a public that remembered all the bad things that happened and refused to let it happen agian.  I found this a little too optimistic because the government will always have its own agenda and people just want to get on with their own lives and the best way to do that is forget.