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War then and now: Sharing the sacrifice a thing of the past

Ken Burns’ “The War” is a riveting look into World War II and a selection of American men, women and towns that endured that epic chapter of our history.

After Monday, however, I’m wondering if the War on Terror will get such a treatment six decades in the future.

Being something of a WWII history nerd, watching the different episodes of The War on PBS has brought subtle new insight into life back when every part of our society was touched by events going on “Over There.”



But looking at my life, and as I look around Truckee-Tahoe, I’d say that unless somebody has a loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan there won’t be much mention of national sacrifice when this chapter of U.S. history is written some time in the future.

Unless that is you are the family of Marine Sgt. Phillip Bocks ” or related to the 465 Americans killed at this point in Afghanistan or the 3,860 troops who have died in Iraq.



Sgt. Bocks, who lived in Truckee for a good part of his formative years, was killed last Friday in a firefight in a far-off place called Aranus, Afghanistan.

While many of us know the battles, the heroes and the weapons of World War II,

Burns’ look into the daily lives of people and small towns on the homefront is particularly profound considering that we are now supposed to be living in a time of war.

One of four towns highlighted by Burns ” along with Sacramento, by the way ” is Luverne, Minnesota. Being a newspaper guy, the fascinating part of Burns’ look into little Luverne is Al McIntosh, the owner and editor of the town’s paper. McIntosh’s columns chronicled simply yet eloquently the life and times of his town when everyone knew someone serving in harm’s way.

Sgt. Bocks and his family won’t get such a reunion. I think of his stepmother, Monica Bocks of Truckee, recalling Phillip’s love of skiing, and undoubtedly his love of the Sierra as he was an instructor at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center high up on the beautiful east side off Highway 108.

I think of the “boys” from Luverne and everyplace else who didn’t return from Over There and McIntosh’s ability to understand ” and write about ” the humanity of it all. I think of the nation that truly sacrificed at least something if not the ultimate ” someone.

And then I think of now and Marine Sgt. Phillip A. Bocks and the 4,324 men and women who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice Over There while we make none here.

When the Ken Burns of 2080 chronicles The War on Terror, he’ll have at least 4,325 stories to tell, but from the looks of things, few will be about the homefront.


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