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Military Traditions

February 2, 2021 By Liz Wildberger

Boots Boots Boots Marching Over Africa

One Sunday evening in February 1942, my family sat listening to a radio program called Gabriel Heatter and the News. His signature greeting was, “There’s good news tonight,” even if the war news was terrible.

Mr. Heatter opened the program by announcing, “Rationing will commence immediately. Food, gasoline, shoes . . . .”

I gasped. “Shoes? How will I walk to school! My feet grow fast, you know. And what about my tap shoes? And my Easter shoes?” I whined.

My mother sighed. “Mary Elizabeth, think about your brave uncles for a minute. They are fighting to make the country safe for you to grow up in. How can you be so selfish about something like your shoes? You should be proud to be able to do something to help the war effort.”

I looked at my feet, warm and snug in blue wool slippers, and tried to imagine Uncle John and Uncle Jimmy gratefully putting on dry leather boots somewhere in Africa and thanking their brave niece who had to curl her toes under in outgrown lace-up brown school shoes.

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