Several members of my dance family and I will be attending a USO Dance in Edinburg, Virginia this coming Saturday (October 12). Most of us have a real affinity for the music of World War II, and we can enjoy it so much more than those for whom it was contemporary music, for we know how—and when—the war ended. Had this dance been held 75 years ago, on October 12, 1944 (a Thursday night, by the way) uncertainty would have hung over the dance floor like the cigarette smoke from a couple dozen soldiers and sailors.
Sure, the Nazis were retreating. Paris had been liberated some six weeks before at the end of August, and the Japanese were on the defensive. There was talk that the boys in Europe would be home by Christmas; but Christmas Day would find Allied troops fighting the Germans and the cold in the Ardennes Forest in what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge. In the Pacific, the 1st Marine Division, and later, the Army’s 81st Infantry Division were slugging it out with the Japanese on the island of Peleliu. Casualties were high, and the fighting was hard. Eight Marines would win the Medal of Honor during this fight; five posthumously. No one had yet heard of Iwo Jima or Okinawa.
Reenactments and USO Dances can give us the flavor of the times, but there is one key ingredient that will always be missing: the uncertainty. Would we win? Would my son/brother/father/husband come home? And, what then? Everyone knows the answer to the first question, and in I’ll Remember You All, the other two questions will be answered for Buck, Johnny, Jimmy, Elizabeth, Veronica, and the other characters in The Secret of Their Midnight Tears trilogy. I hope that you will enjoy the conclusion to the story that began in 1941 and will end later than you might expect.