... neither Douglas nor Donald had to shoot anybody ...
My brother Doug Norris was president of his class in high
school -- in Bloomfield, New Jersey, where we grew up. He
and a bunch of buddies got permission to graduate in
April, 1945 -- two months early so they could sign up with
the army. It was about three months before President
Truman used two atomic bombs to end the Second World
So most of Doug's two years as a soldier were in a time of
reclamation, of peace, a time to hang up the guns and put
the world back together again. He was so smart that,
before his two-year-hitch was up, he had made First
Sergeant. He never got out of the country, never shot
anybody, and completed his tour in good health.
At which point, he got government to support his college
education, spent four years studying engineering at Tufts,
got married and had three kids -- all college kids -- and
finally died of Altzhimers in a home in California.
There was a time in his career that he was supposed to
design a tank turret that could deflect enemy fire -- while
the guy at the desk beside him was supposed to develop a
new artillery round that would decimate the very same
tank. Later he joined a consortium of electric power
companies; Doug's job was to travel around the world,
checking on those geniuses that received grant money from
the consortium -- to make sure they were working on their
specified project. He was dealing with some of the world's
We were both lucky, when I think back on it, for we never
had to shoot anybody. Doug's war ended four months after
he signed up; mine -- the Korean war -- ended just as I
was graduating from Tufts and going to active duty in the
Dr. Douglas Norris made it to his eighties, and I'm now 85,
still recuperating from heart surgery. I have four cousins
left from some sixty or seventy -- I'm the youngest -- but
not the healthiest. Cousin Sadie has that privilege.
So much for another Memorial Day. Too bad that there has
to be thousands of families that still have to mourn their
kin, in the name of peace --and heartbreak.
June 3, 2016