An Interview with a WWII Civilian

April 26, 2010

Grams and Me

World War II was a devastating time for the United States and everyone who was involved. Martha McKay was just a little girl while WWII was happening. She was born in 1935 in Seminole, Oklahoma. Martha moved to Port Chicago, California at the age of twelve. She never graduated from college but took a class in law. When she moved to California she worked in civil services for a few years. Martha remembers very little of WWII but was able to  answer some questions for the interview.

“Don’t remember anything about that as I was too young but was well aware of a war going on since I had a brother, an uncle, and a cousin in WWII,” said Martha when I asked her what she remembered about the attack on Pearl Harbor. She was always very supportive towards her family members during the war. She remembered receiving letters from her brother and reading them with her family. I asked her what she remembered from being on the home front during the war and she said, “I remember that we all did what we had to do, we all buckled down and made the best of it.” It seemed like she and many others supported the men on the front line and were motivated to do so. Martha had many relatives that served our great nation, yet one relative, her cousin, never came home. She remembered the devastation her family went through when hearing the news of the loss. Many had heard of men losing their lives, yet none had experienced it within the family.

People throughout the United States were disrupted through the times of war. Some had lost loved ones and some were still waiting on word from their family members serving overseas. When I asked Martha if she or her family had been disrupted during the war she didn’t have much to say but, “Not that I knew of, I know that we didn’t get everything we wanted but all that we needed.  We did what we had to do to help our country while helping our military.” Then I asked her about rationing during the war she said, “Yes I do remember rationing.  Didn’t affect us to a big extent, we just did what we had to do.  We had rationing on a lot of things but we managed.” It seemed to me that many Americans were experiencing the same thing.

President Roosevelt was a huge impact to the United States during the time of WWII. He had many Americans believing in their country, had men serving to protect them and keeping them safe from the war. As soon as the war started, many jobs also became available. Martha didn’t remember much of President Roosevelt, yet she knew of him because of her parents, and they liked him very much. “I was too young to work, my dad worked in the oil companies, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom.” said Martha when I asked her about working during the war. She had explained to me she wanted to but couldn’t because of her age. Safety was never a worry for Martha during the war, she believed that we had enough defense from the war coming to us.

When WWII was coming to a near end many people were looking forward to the return of the war heroes. Many events had happened that shocked many people, not only in the U.S., but around the world. So when I asked Martha if she had seen any support for the returning troops I had a feeling of what she would say. “There was total support, people would gather at the train stations to welcome them home, even if they didn’t know them.” she said. It must have made every returning soldier feel like a hero when returning to such a thing. Martha had heard about the devastations of the war but never really understood them. When the nuclear bomb was dropped on Japan she was to young to know what was going on. “They did what they had to do and felt they had to do.  I was young and wouldn’t have second guessed it.” Martha said when asked about the bombings. I believe many Americans felt the same. I asked her If she could let us all know what events had happened or personal memories she had that could help us all understand the war she had few words to say. The only thing she did say was, “My favorite memory was when my brother came home from the war safe and sound.  Our nation lost a lot of good men and my cousin was one of them.  I don’t know that our nation went through anything except doing what we all had to do to get our men and women back home.”

My Grandmother, Martha McKay is a great woman. She had been through more than I could even think of. I have a greater respect for her knowing what she had been through and the way she has carried her family through all these events. She will always be loved and remembered.

Tyler Patrick


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