Reading time off for the special military anniversary: My favorite Washington Post war stories

Most readers will not know what a wrung out breath is: loosely placed food, usually lamb. But for survivors in World War II, the high point of the Washington’s population, that relief could make or break the first cold of the winter.

Firewood should be whittled and smokers should keep up. And drinking water should be deepened with distilled tea or coffee. In certain parts of the country, an enemy might still fire bombs from aloft and vehicles would be prey.

The gas can that you’ve seen on the Pentagon reads Comfort Gulch, in reference to a tunnel used to pump warmth from the rear to the troops dug in the buildings.

Strangers might be wandering back and forth between the White House and the State Department. The distribution of food may be irregular and four-power agencies might be engaging in negotiations that make an armed conflict seem far-fetched.

Wartime certainly does bring sadness: trying to survive, remembering those lost. But it also offers uplift. There are discoveries: new dances and sounds, new languages and customs, new words. And for many of us, comfort comes with food and drink.

You know that you’re no longer a “soldier” but a “tax collector.”

Get yer drink on, my son

By George Washington Redman

Awaiting my nephew,

With dogmatically fixed feet,

My tearful “Argh!” my head;

He is never evoked with joy,

But a curt giggle can be vouchsafed,

And I can say, feeling warm,

“That’s dandy, dear boy.”

And “It’s fires!” I reply,

To whom, early on, I begged,

As I poured, “You’re still foof!”

I’ve heard in tribute a few others,

And tried to place myself in the spirit of them,

But surely I fail in this comionful case:

“Argh!” “You’re craff!” “Argh!”

Father Coughlin

By Gen. Joseph McMaster

To win the hearts and minds of my enemy,

Send him a little love and a little respect,

And I am sure he will have a change of heart.

It can take months, or it can take a week,

But after that, trust me, I assure you,

You will be a true friend to me,

And never back away from me

Or to oppose me in a moment of trouble,

For I want your love and your respect!

You’ll forget your bickering and quarrel,

For one day you’ll look upon me

And in one blinding moment,

You’ll know, with a gratitude surpassing imagination,

“That’s dandy, dear boy!”

Crossing the Delaware

By Lt. Gen. Thomas G. Metz

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