Changing Times, Changing Names

My mother was called a “war widow” and I was a “designated war orphan” in the terminology used by our government after WWII. We received pensions through the Veteran’s Administration. Today, the VA pays “Dependency and Indemnity Compensation” to the “Surviving Spouse” and “Surviving Child.”

An improvement over the 19th century language in prior use, I think.

A noteworthy finding: the term “Vietnam war orphan” is generally used to describe the abandoned, mixed-race children of GI’s and Vietnamese women.

Pensions for the survivors of the 20th and 21st centuries’ wars total $40 billion a year. However, during the Bush administration, the public was not permitted to see the flag-draped caskets arriving at Dover Air Force Base. Another “veil of silence” was encouraged. We have stopped tying yellow ribbons on trees.

I will continue to search for clues about my father’s service-connected death. When the veterans of WWII aged, they finally began to talk. Often, younger siblings, sons and daughters and grandchildren recorded these stories of combat experiences and post-war nightmares. Link by link, an ancient connection was forged. I am so grateful to the family that established the website for my father’s ship, the USS Hilarity. How else could I have found him after all this time?





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