A Daughter’s Journey of Discovery:
Daughters, fathers and war – three words seldom used together. In The Hidden Legacy of World War II: A Daughter’s Journey, Carol Schultz Vento weaves life with her famous paratrooper father into the larger narrative of World War II and the homecoming of the Greatest Generation.
The book describes the seldom told story of how the war trauma of World War II impacted one family. This personal story is combined with the author’s thorough research and investigation of the reality for those World War II veterans who could not forget the horrors of war.
This nonfiction work fills in the missing pieces of the commonly accepted societal view of World War II veterans as stoic and unwavering, a true but incomplete portrait of that generation of warrior.
My father and stepfather both saw combat in WWII, my father as part of the 82nd Airborne’s 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and my stepdad Lee on a Naval fighting ship, but they did not both carry war trauma back on the ships with them.
At the end of the twentieth century, middle aged children of the World War II combat vets slowly began to walk out of the shadows with their stories, more than five decades after VE day. By exposing blood and guts and deromanticizing our fathers’ war, Steven Spielberg, the son of a veteran of the Pacific Theater in World War II, , unleashed the hidden turmoil of a generation. Gradually, children were telling their stories of the reality of living with a World War II combat vet, a tale that in some cases was a far cry from the image of the perfect Greatest Generation family.
The odor tipped me off even before I entered. A sickly, sweet freshener impotently attempted to liven up the stale air. The old man lay on his side in the soiled hospital bed, semi-fetal position, with one khaki covered leg hanging to the floor. Anxiously circling the bed to get a view, I saw a stubbled, sunken face, slightly reminiscent of a death mask. The brownish, grey hair was jutting out cowlick mad. The nails were so long they almost curled. I touched the man’s shoulder, and a gnarled, discolored hand grabbed my wrist. “I haven’t felt this bad since the Bulge.” The Battle of the Bulge, 60 years prior, was his reference point for death.
Links to articles about The Hidden Legacy: