WWII Veteran Speaks on Personal Impact of War

El Vaquero Staff Writer

In honor of Veteran’s Day, instructor Mark Romano offered his Political Science 101 students a guest speaker in Kreider Hall on Nov. 13: his father.

Bert Romano is a World War II veteran who was asked by his son to give a personal testimony about the impact of war.

The elder Romano started out by explaining what it is like to live in a nation at war by offering his credentials. “All I can say is one thing only: I was there.”

He mentioned the fear that escalates during those times that war envelopes our nation.

People lived not only in fear, but found themselves enduring many inconveniences. The majority of women, for example, accustomed to wearing silk stockings, were informed that all silk would be needed for making parachutes. Milk, sugar, and butter were rationed. Gas was rationed and tires could not be purchased. For four years the country didn’t manufacture one automobile.

“But if you can’t get any gas and you can’t get any tires, what do you need a car for anyway?” Romano said.

With transportation being at a near standstill, Romano described the difficulty his wife and mother encountered when attempting to travel from Michigan in order to visit him while stationed in Columbus, Ohio.

Somehow they acquired train tickets but had no seats. He described for the class his family “sitting on their bags in a baggage car.”

Romano also explained the psyche of a combatant. “Every combat soldier that I have talked to will always tell you that what they did they would never do again,” said Romano. “But they would take nothing from the experience.”

He illustrated the mental strain a combatant is subject to. “The way you win is by having the other side die for his cause.”

Romano advised against emotional attachment even when the person is on your side.

“You deliberately avoid making too close of friends,” said Romano. Befriending a person who could die at any second will only further the already emotionally overbearing situation for a combatant, he said.
A student asked Romano if he felt as though the U.S. satisfactorily compensates its soldiers. He said it depended on the war in question.

“I was treated as a conquering hero. Soldiers fighting in Vietnam were treated like dirt, even though they still went through the same trials and tribulations.”

Romano was also asked to compare the attack on Pearl Harbor with the events of Sept. 11. The distinction was clear, as the U.S. had already known the enemy before joining World War II.
“We have never [before] declared war against a shadow enemy such as terrorism.”