“Tell the world about your guy in the rocking chair who was once gung ho, climbing mountains and dodging a ruthless enemy bent on his torture and destruction. Climb on his knee yourself, if you must, but get his story.”
—-James W. Hudson, as quoted by the Washington Post in his obituary today. Hudson, 93, was an OSS operative during World War II who was dropped behind German lines to set up an intelligence network and disrupt supply networks.
James Hudson was one of those guys for sure. His death was barely noted, yet he was another bona fide WWII hero, a Bronze Star recipient who rescued 13 Allied nurses whose plane had been shot down in the mountains of Albania, and completed a mission to capture German scientists. Like most of our rapidly vanishing World War II veterans, Hudson didn’t expect accolades but was miffed at modern America’s ignorance of the heroes in their midst and the unrepayable debts we owe to them. The Washington Post, which found Hudson’s quote in an article he had written for a veterans magazine a few years ago, didn’t bother to mention the anniversary of D-Day this June 6th. Neither did most other newspapers and news outlets. Why? I think they believe nobody cares, and I think they are probably right.
It isn’t just that America’s widespread ignorance and apathy about our history is ungrateful and disrespectful to people like Hudson, though it certainly is that. The lack of appreciation and perspective makes its public vulnerable to lies and demagogues, unable to muster facts to counter the ongoing slander of America haters and the corrosive paranoia of hysterics. It takes a good country to produce good patriots like James Hudson, and we would know our nation better if we took the time to learn just how good they were.