Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day. When D-Day happened, my Uncle Dick and Grandmother Agnes were still both alive. A year later both were dead. My paternal grandmother Agnes heard something on the radio that gave her the idea that the war would soon be over. She ran for the steps to go downstairs to tell Mom and Dad. She tripped on the steps and badly injured herself. She died from those injuries. Mom and Dad got the news of the death of Uncle Dick in May 1945. Dad commented "Thank God Mom went first. This would have killed her." Dad missed his brother until the end of his life.
Mom's side of the family took some hits as well. Uncle Clarence served in the Army over in Europe. He was wounded twice rather badly. When he got home, people said to him "Guess you will be getting married now." He replied "No. I want a quiet life." That good man became like a second father to me. I think the world is poorer because of his quite understandable decision. Uncle John literally cracked up in basic training. I don't know why. The Army and the VA did take care of him until the end of his life. I do remember him smoking four packs of cigarettes a day. I wonder if what happened to him in the 1940s had something to do with that. He did die of a heart attack at age 65. Uncle Clarence made it to 81, Mom to 93.
After the war, this country let in the Peenemunde rocket team. Yes, we got a Man on the Moon in 1969. But did bringing in these people shift aerospace culture in a fundamentally bad way? Make it far more authoritarian? Cause failures like Challenger and Columbia? There has been some discussion of this topic in several places. I don't know what to say. I can say that I am on the outside of an agency that clearly needs reform in major ways.