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Beautiful October

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October is a relaxing month. The summer heat is passing and cooler mornings and evenings start to prevail. Crops have been picked and the growing season has just about ended, except for the last large green tomatoes on the vine. Those tomatoes were a prize. Fried green tomatoes, what a treat. Last week I asked the vegetable man in the supermarket for green tomatoes: he thought I was crazy.

October 1945 was as glorious as any October. The colors of October welcomed home troops still coming back from the war zones. Refugees from war-torn countries were arriving on our doorstep. And, new additions to or country were arriving by the ship loads – war brides.

It seemed like the country was reinventing itself. Stores were reopening with a dazzling array of new products as manufacturers could now concentrate on consumer goods rather than wartime materials. A woman named Chiquita Banana brought us the first bananas we had seen in five years.

The entire world was trying to reorganize itself after the years of war. On Oct. 24, 1945, the United Nations Charter was ratified. On Oct. 3, 1946, President Harry S. Truman opened the first meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City. The president also signed an Executive Order on Oct. 14, 1946, lifting the war-imposed price controls on food.

The war and its effects were not far from the minds of people. In October 1945, The War Crimes Trials were starting in Nuremberg, Germany. The notorious Nazi leaders were being tried for crimes against humanity and the crime of starting a war. Twelve Nazi leaders were found guilty and sentenced to be hanged on Oct. 15, 1946.

Since that time many more participants in their evil and sadistically oriented practices have been tracked down and brought to justice. I am not Jewish and I had no kin in Europe, but those pictures and testimonies turn my stomach and stir me to extreme anger. General Dwight D. Eisenhower had American troops tour those camps to see not what they are fighting for, but what they are fighting against.

Mad men still exist in this world. It is not publicized, but today, in far corners of the world, well-trained American teams are on missions to liberate oppressed people from the hands of their maniacal leaders. If these bad actors are allowed to grow, we could someday face a menace like the Nazis of old. De oppresso liber. Enjoy the beautiful colors in a free American autumn.

Richard Pender is the senior vice commander of American Legion Post 459 in North Brunswick. He writes the occasional historical column for Newspaper Media Group. He can be reached at rapender@netzero.net.

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