Roughly speaking, my childhood is as long ago now as the Second World War had been when I was a child. That means that the Second World War is roughly as long ago now as the First World War had been when I was a kid.
That means that the First World War is practically as long ago to children now as the Civil War had been to me when I was a child.
The kicker? It all just keeps getting further away.
Once you go that far back before your birth things start to take on an almost mythological quality. You have no living link to that time. To me, the people who fought in the Civil War are just as lost to history as people who fought in the Crusades.
The people who fought in the First World War, however, are still very real to me. Even though they are all just as dead and buried. I was born to older parents who were themselves born to older parents. People in my family on both sides seem to carry some kind of mutant giant tortoise gene. We take a long time to die.
I knew lots of people who were alive during the First World War when I was a kid. My grandfather was one of those dumb young kids who, filled with the patriotic flush of suicidal courage, lied about their age to enlist. His thumb rests in peace somewhere in Somme.
He was picking shrapnel out of the stump until the day he died. It was an elegant digital ballet when he hand rolled his cigarettes.
I'm sure he knew people who were alive during the Civil War. That era was as real and personal to him as he was to me.
Hm. Yeah. Hm? Sorry? Was I supposed to have a point?
Old people are pretty cool, and it would appear as though I'm definitely going to become one someday - whether I feel qualified to be one or not.
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