I had a lot of fun doing an AMA here last year, so I'm back for more. I wrote some thoughts on turning 90 on my blog, Ron's Rants and Raves. The good people at /r/washingtondc know me for a weekly blog of free and accessible cultural events in our city (though it has been on hiatus for the past month as I traveled): www.dcfreeculture.com

Here is my brief bio from last time:

My youthful adviser tells me that I should say a bit about myself so that you can know something of my perspective. Born in San Antonio in a lower middle-class environment, I attended grades 1 through 11 in the public schools. volunteering for the Marine Corps in 1943. I was being prepared for the invasion of Japan through the Marine V-12 training program. Perhaps my life was spared by the dropping of the atomic bomb – but at what cost to others? My three college degrees were made possible by the G.I. Bill of Rights. College education in Illinois and Michigan resulted in a lifetime of education work in Michigan where I did everything in the public schools from teaching kindergarten to university instruction except driving a bus. My real love however was being a junior high school principal in an inner city school for the last 15 years of my 30 year professional career. And seventeen years ago I found a renewed life in the District of Columbia.

The only true trauma in my life came after 43 years of marriage when my wife died.. Since then my life continues to be enriched by our four children, nine grandchildren and a new partner. Also widowed, she has enriched my life with her two children and four grandchildren and marvelous retirement opportunities in Washington DC.

My Proof: i.imgur.com/5UT2uZZ.jpg

(I'm Ron's grandson, /u/theturbolemming, here to lend a hand when needed)

** I need to take a break from all of this! I'm going to sleep, but I want you all to know that I'm going to answer EACH and EVERY question on here. I will devote 2-3 hours each day until I get them all. Thank you!**

Comments: 1755 • Responses: 22  • Date: 

Korona82833 karma

In your opinion, was the atomic bomb necessary to end the Pacific War?

dcretiree1721 karma

Such a fascinating question for me personally with deep meaning. Necessary to end the war? Of course not! But did it save my life and at what cost to others/or lesser casualties - I don't know. I do think THE BOMB has caused the world to look more reasonably at the horror of war and the need to agree to controls. In my own life it has been a part of my DNA to support anything/everything i possibly can to bring peace and understanding in the world. A short answer to a brief question that I'm ready to consider further if you like

polysyllabist2314 karma

I always like to approach the question of the bomb backwards.

How would you feel if the bomb was never dropped, and the war had to be finished conventionally? What would your reaction be if you found out after the fact, that your government had the means to end the war without the long costly invasion... but that it would have cost the lives of tens of thousands of civilians to do so?

dcretiree260 karma

Thanks for the thoughtful response. It truly gave me something to think about

FracturedEel223 karma

I hope this doesn't sound discriminatory in any way, but that's refreshing to hear from an American soldier.

SaintJackDaniels687 karma

Most warmongers have never fought in a war

rokkitboosta503 karma

My grandfather, a WWII European Theater Vet (7th armored, Tank Commander), was one of the most anti-war people I knew.

One exchange that sticks in my mind was post 9/11 pre gulf war II. My father, in a fit of jingoistic fervor, remarked that I (having just graduated highschool) needed to go right down and enlist in front of my grandfather.

My grandfather loudly called my father an idiot and told him that was the stupidest thing he'd ever heard him say.

dcretiree131 karma

I'm truly humbled by the interest in the subject. I'm overwhelmed by the responses to my simple plea to reach out to others thinking individuals. I can only say that I want to answer every response individually and encourage people to consider thinking and becoming involved, and the hope that this social media can be used to bring people together.

LDM95674 karma

Which decade has been your favourite and why?

CodyRud300 karma

Also: what are your thoughts on the 60's and 70's? Did you enjoy the whole hippy movement at the time? And what was it like to see a beautiful young Cher turn into what she has become today?

dcretiree774 karma

I find the excitement of the present decade hard to beat except for the extreme polarization of our country. Life is exciting even at 90 years of age except when I consider not only the polarization of our country but the poverty and frustration I see for so many people. To try to answer your question I must stay that each decade had new thrills and challenges. Showing my age and failure to keep up with changes in society, I only remember Char is a fascinating young actress. Tell me what's happened to her today – or maybe I don't want to know thanks for the thoughtful question

ElNutimo534 karma

You've seen a lot of things through the years. What, in your opinion was the worst fashion trend?

dcretiree1094 karma

The zoot suit. We even had a great song about it in the 40's. But I also feel a BAD trend was the plainness of mens clothes most of my life. Today we begin to burst out of that fashion with better looking stuff - think of the variety of mens shoes today. Of course this is onlyi from a male point of view about mens clothes.

Rayden_Greywolf390 karma

Do you feel others of your generation are missing out on today's technological advancements? Or do you believe things such as social media are largely overrated?

dcretiree645 karma

Yes and yes and no! If those in my generation are not using the social media they are missing out on something. But you can't blame them, it is difficult for oldsters and I could not manage it were it not for my grandson helping me every couple of weeks. And I believe the social media as they/it are presently used are overrated and underrated. There is a time and place for everything, and I sometimes think they/it are like a new child's toy. Yet I think they hasonly begun to find their use as an instrument for furthering democracy and good government. Remember Egypt and the "revolution". I fear that what we are missing today is the social glue that Robert Putnam talks about it in his book, "bowling alone" and "our kids" that talks about what we lack today in American society - two books that Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute says are two of the most important books published recently,

DownvoteDaemon360 karma

You have seen America change so much...as a black person I'm curious to know if you ever thought we would have a black president? Do you think America is headed in a good direction?

dcretiree644 karma

Thank you for the question. The current social, political and international scene fills me with despair because I have thrilled at the trajectory of American society. Growing up in Texas with segregated drinking fountains along with almost everything else, I have truly felt the trajectory has been in a positive direction. What a thrill for me to volunteer at the White House visitor Center and see scores of African-Americans feeling for the first time that the White House is truly the house for all Americans. I marvel at the strengths of our president in standing up to the vitriol that is thrown in his direction. I resonate to Michelle's statement – for which she was damned – "for the first time I truly feel proud of my country." It may be that this next election when truly move forward or regress.

TaddWinter260 karma

Two things I always like to ask men who served in the Pacific;

  1. Give me your opinion on General MacArthur.

  2. Did you sense that more attention and even supplies and support went to European Theater than to the Pacific?

Thank you for taking time to do this and thanks for your service.

dcretiree282 karma

  1. At the time Gen. MacArthur seemed like a great hero. In retrospect I'm prone to see him as "an old soldier who not only didn't die" but probably represented some of the best and the worst of the military. He only following orders as he raised the veterans protesting the failure of the government to give them their bonuses after World War I.

2 I really prefer not to second-guess the decisions made in those critical times. However, it may have been one of America's finest moments. While we were most immediately threatened by Japan I truly believe the greater threat to civilization was in Europe.

fluffyballer238 karma

When you listen to music from your past, which as more meaning and gives you the best memories?

dcretiree411 karma

I know my answers are supposed to be short, but with the Dragon dictation machine and such interesting questions, I find it difficult to follow this "rule". I find all sorts of music extremely meaningful except may e the very latest "discovery". And even that becomes much more than palatable as the years go by. Certainly the top of my list has to be the Broadway musical – from Sondheim to Rogers – but then again I love that big band music from the 40s – or combos from the 50s – or most any Requiem or symphony. But then again I recall singing, "The Lost Chord" in the eighth grade and it fills me with happy memories.

EvictYou218 karma

Thank you for your service. My grandfather also became a widower and has a new spouse and I was able to perform their wedding.

Would you say your love for your new partner is the "same" as the love you had for your wife of 43 years? Why or why not?

dcretiree545 karma

OMG! I love the new social media - such a fascinating way to connect, yet so sterile in its ability for us to get acquainted. I love the concept of you officiating for your grandfather - I've loved seeing a grandmother officiate (non-clerically) for her grandson. And (not even fearing that my current partner will read this) I must say that love is NEVER the same. Life was different/we were each different before. I've experienced life and pleasure with Linda I never did before. Since we both lost a previous experience we appreciate joys more deeply and are endure pain more deeply tahn before.

Regarding "thanks for my service" I must add that my time in the service has been more than repaid to me by a caring, supported, NEEDED government that made it possible for me to use the GI Bill and a host of other benefits.

j_obi158 karma

What are your 3 degrees in?

dcretiree331 karma

BA - History, Latin and Athletics - to become a teacher and coasch MA - Counseling Guidance - (for school counseling Ph. D. - Educational Administration - for various administration positions. My truye love was being And remaining a principal

For any who might be interested I'd encourage you to read more about my life in http://www.ronlehkersrants.blogspot.com

msbunbury144 karma

What's your opinion on how long it takes for things to start feeling like the past? And does this change with age? So for example I'm mid -thirties, the eighties and nineties definitely seem to me like the proper actual past whereas the 2000s aren't quite there yet.

dcretiree133 karma

A very interesting question I feel, and related to what our schools should be teaching. It's so easy to look at the distant past and ignore what is going on around us today. Everything is in the past and it all needs to be carefully considered as we try to make the best decisions for the future of our planet. I know this doesn't answer your question, but I think it is important that we look validly not only at the distant past but at the things that have happened recently as our leaders are asked to me decisions for our future.

iratehedgehog131 karma

Since you have lived in quite a few places - what do you think makes some place a really good home? Is it building something with your partner, having family near, having the free culture of DC close by or does it not matter so much if you have rewarding work that you spend your time on?

dcretiree184 karma

Great question, and I only wish we had time to consider it in depth. I'd love that. But with hundreds of questions coming in immediately I'm told I should respond to as many as possible. I've loved every place I've lived in in America. San Antonio in the 40s was a great city (for white Anglos) large enough for culture but small enough to move around with public transportation. Five's cities across the country in the military gave me exposure to life across America. The Chicago area was great for college and a small town in Michigan let me establish myself in a profession with a family. Being a professional in Ann Arbor was wonderful, but a small industrial town in West Michigan provided me with the opportunity to truly make a difference in young people's lives. Being open to the culture of one's environment, having meaningful relationships with other people and family and satisfaction and adequate compensation in my work gave my life meaning wherever I was.

Myasoyedov103 karma

Did you visit Japan or Germany after the war? What did you think about them then and what do you think about them now?

dcretiree158 karma

Sorry I didn't. But I have a great deal since and have often been with my family members in Germany who did not migrate to America. I can only marvel at the rebuilding of that country and their determination to build a better society. I was also tremendously impressed recently as I entertained visitors from Germany in DC at how much respect they had that America entered wars to protect and help countries that were threatened by the Nazis. and other evils

samtompk77 karma

Wow. I live that we can connect like this. I'm curious how it feels to get old? I know that's a blunt question, but do you feel there is discrimination against the elderly? How can the current generations help our fathers better in the future?

dcretiree166 karma

Thanks, Sam, I too like connecting with others, but just wish we could do so personally. Perhaps the reason I love getting old is that I have been blessed by continuing to relate to young people in my volunteer work, in my church and in my family. Rather than envy feeling discriminated against I feel I am given a great many privileges – the senior discounts really should be for young families.

TuckerGrover35 karma

I'm an Iraq combat Vet that used the GI Bill for both bachelors and masters degrees. I'm finally settling into my career as a social worker and would like some guidance from you. What are some things I absolutely must do in life? Are there any quotes that you live by? Thanks for leading the way.

dcretiree4 karma

I trust I am not too late in answering you. I've been overwhelmed by the heartfelt aspect of the questions that make me want to answer everyone, and yours is certainly one of them. I hope this gets through to you most important I believe is enjoying the simple things of life. And I was attuned to this in my 11th grade English course – and I only had 11 years of public education because in Texas we neither had kindergarten nor a 12th grade. The 11th grade and you are a high school graduate. But I so often think of the literature I learned from Miss Lawrence's class Thanatopsis, "so live that when thy summons comes to join that mysterious afterlife, go not like a quarry slave at5 ni9ght, but sustained and soothed by that unfaltering trust.

That may not be perfectly accurate but it really reflects the view I've had of life being positive looking forward, trusting others. I think that's important not only for your life but also in your chosen field of work a social worker, and even though he was a lawyer you might remember that the real of the presidents was as a social worker/activist

sap9115 karma

As a young person today, I find it really hard to be anything but pessimistic about our current state of affairs (environment, the economy, international entanglements, domestic issues out the wazoo, the depths to which public discourse have fallen, etc). Are things really as bad as they seem? Or do I just lack perspective?

dcretiree20 karma

Indeed in many ways I agree with your assessment of world conditions today. I sincerely feel the issues we face are even more difficult than those of the 1940s. However, just as then, I feel the answers can be found through the resources and knowledge that we have available to us. We must look to science and change and education to solve our problems and individually do all we can to move our country and the world in the right direction. In many ways things are better today for more people than they were in the past, we are just made much more aware of what is going on around us. As I look back I know I have not change the world in my lifetime but the simple things that I was doing conscientiously in my family and my community have contributed to making the world better. It's vitally important that we find strength in a belief system built upon the value of all individuals.

rawboudin8 karma

What is the single technological advancement that you feel has been the most important in your lifetime?

dcretiree6 karma

It seems to change almost every decade. First it was the automobile then the airplane then the credit card then the computer. How can I choose between them especially when there are some I am probably not even aware of. But in taking 30 seconds to try to reflect on the thing that has changed the face of America more than any other for me personally, I would almost have to say it's the automobile. Thanks for giving me 30 seconds to think

RomeNC7 karma

You would have lived as America transitioned from isolationism to being the world superpower. Do you ever feel that America should go back to being isolationist, or do you feel that isolation is something that can no longer work in the post-War global society?

dcretiree6 karma

There's no going back! But the tricky part is learning to be a team player rather than being dictator. I truly believe we have misunderstood what American exceptionalism is all about. Our country has been exceptionally fortunate to not be saddled with the problems of the past. We were exceptional in the way we took a land from others and used others to develop it. I believe this gives us an exceptional opportunity to be a team leader in bringing opportunity to more of the world

OnIowa7 karma

What gets better the older you get?

dcretiree6 karma

The opportunity to take life at a slower pace and reflect on the broader issues confronting the world.

Specalios6 karma

How would you compare modern warfare now and then? Has the military changed much since your time serving?

dcretiree6 karma

This is really something I don't give a great deal of thought to and outside of my area of expertise. Perhaps my grandson in helping me develop my presentation overemphasized the role of the military in my life. While the trauma and suffering may have decreased somewhat for the military I think warfare today may well have a greater impact upon the populace. And certainly it is obvious that modern technique has totally changed the way of conducting warfare. How can it even be considered in a civilized world?