Living Through America’s Wars

Fiona Hill, Natasha Cadet, and Melissa Hauss

Carol Hebert was born in Newark, New Jersey right before the worst war in human history. World War II started just as she was going into junior high and lasted for several years. It was a hardship having to use food stamps, live with many of the men gone, and prepare for random attacks by having their “curtains closed, blinds closed- to let no light in”.

She remembers going to the movie theater and being horrified when “the newsreel would show [the] troops assisting the few survivors of [concentration camps] and they looked like the walking dead; gaunt, expressionless, barely able to traverse the distance to the trucks.”

While life throughout the war was a dark time for the world, Hebert remained unwaveringly strong and had an attitude that it was just a part of life for her. She did not let the war stop her from pursuing her ambitions in life, and ended up traveling Europe post-war as a chorus singer and married an engineer with whom she had six kids.

Her husband, Donald Hebert, worked on jet engines and served in the National Guard for six years before eventually ending up in Massachusetts to work at General Electric. Donald Hebert passed away August of 2016 after 66 years of marriage with Carol.

When Hebert was a child, her mother had soldiers on leave or veterans from their church stay over for dinner. These soldiers had no other place to go, so her family opened their arms to the weary servicemen. Because the soldiers usually only came over once, Hebert remembered a specific experience with one who came over multiple times.

He would give her coins from different places he had traveled and she kept the coin collection for decades after. Even though Hebert did not experience the direct effects of the war, her experiences during the time will last with her forever.

Hebert is a strong believer in compromise. Instead of teaching her kids directly about war, she worked on making sure they were excellent in conflict resolution in any sort of argument or dispute they faced. Her opinion on compromise and working together caused her to disagree with the Korean and Vietnam wars, due to them having had a vague purpose with little aim for mutual success. At least with World War II, she knew there was no way to avoid it and the situation was impossibly complex.

When asked about her thoughts on the result of the most recent election, Hebert said that she was worried that the political climate might become as tense and dark as it was during her childhood. In order to prevent that, she believes the two parties need to reach across the table and work with each other to in order to be successful with the newest president-elect.

The life lessons she learned from living through war has taught her that self-discipline is the key to success. Whether someone is involved in the service or just living their life, the way to do well is to keep his/herself in line and follow orders unless there is a spectacular reason not to. She thinks that being in the service is commendable, no matter how small the position is that a person has. As long as someone has self-control, they can be just as essential to the war effort as an infantryman or officer.

Hebert’s look on life has always seemed to be based on love and unity. Although she has had to experience several brutal wars and dark times during her lifetime, she likes to see the brighter side of everything and hope that the world can learn to come together and focus more on the similarities between each other rather than the differences.

She refuses to let modern terrorism scare her, saying that she does not need to be afraid to do certain things in the U.S.: “It’s my right, and they can’t take it away from me”.  Hebert is a strong and harmony-oriented woman, and without women like her holding down the fort while wars were waged, America would not be as great as it is to this da