In the war over World War II, I am waving the white flag.
In a recent column about Gary Rasor, the 83-year-old man who died this month after being knocked to the floor by an alleged thief while working at the Hillsborough Home Depot store, I wrote “Having reached four score and two years, Grandpa Gary, you’d like to imagine, could’ve been at home regaling his grands and great-grands with tales of his exploits as a World War II vet or as an entrepreneur in Florida and New Jersey – or maybe engaging in his favorite hobbies reading Louis L’amour paperbacks or working in his yard.”
As scores of readers pointed out with varying degrees of civility, Rasor could not have fought in WWII because the war ended in 1945 when he was only 5.
My bad, yo.
It’s true: nobody could have been in the war at 5.
But I know someone who was raring to enlist at 7: ME!
In the second grade, full of patriotic fervor and with my mind all fevered from incessantly watching Combat! – whose hero was named Sgt. Saunders (pictured) - and every Audie Murphy movie I could find, I proudly announced to Mrs. Johnson and some other teachers that I was quitting school so that I could join the army and fight “krauts.”
That is now an unacceptable term that was at that time used to describe Nazi soldiers.
Mrs. Johnson’s pitying response had me turning red – trust me on that – with shame and had other teachers tittering.
“Barry, what war are you fighting?” she asked.
I didn’t realize that World War II had been over for 20 years and we were now fighting in Southeast Asia.
It was mortifying to check my messages the day the story on Mr. Rasor ran and read responses from readers upbraiding me for being wrong.
Several readers accused me of "fake news."
No, it was just an error, an inexcusable error and one I should have caught with just a little elementary ciphering: my own dad, now 90, was too young to have fought in WWII but did fight in the Korean War and Viet Nam.
Mr. Rasor’s life was deserving of tribute, a factually accurate tribute regardless of when he served our country, and I apologize to his family and to everyone who appreciates accuracy.