For The Duration

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And it is still possible to drive the back roads of America and uncover derelict World War II trucks. Trailing blackberry vines or scoured with the sands of the intervening years, these unintended memorials to the Duration sometimes speak more eloquently than the finest museum examples. Bought by farmers and truckers who wanted cheap, sturdy transportation, by municipalities for firetruck beds and ambulances, these thick-fendered workhorses are a living tribute to the quality of materials and workmanship that Americans put into the equipment that won World War II.

Giants still slumber among us as we conduct our lives oblivious of them. A boat ride up Suisun Bay, north of San Francisco, reveals row after row of gray World War II freighters, moored together for years.

In a sleepy, pine-forested suburb east of Spokane, Washington, a photo portrait studio contains skylights made of three-inch-thick slabs of glass molded into the poured concrete of the building. The owner would hardly have commissioned a glass company to create such monumental slabs from scratch, but he had access to war-surplus armor glazing from the tail turrets of B-24 Liberator bombers.

Fifty years later evidence of the Duration is still all around you. Even this text is a secondhand reference to it. What else surrounds and infuses your life with evidence of the passing of World War II? Is there an artillery piece in the city park on your way to work? Do you take off and land on a runway originally built to handle war traffic? Do the roads that lead from your town bear the heritage of the defense highway system envisioned to carry war matériel? Can you still find a genuine GI mess kit with a World War II date stamp in a local surplus store?

We’re all still in it, for the Duration.