The anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan arrived this week. It seems an appropriate time to recognize the impact of the war on Sherburne County. Unfortunately, and tragically, World War Two impacted everyone. Whether through rationing or military service, or a multitude of other means, every individual in Sherburne County, between 1940 and 1945, felt the war.
An oral history collected from Edmund Babcock makes an interesting point of this: “When my high school class had its fiftieth reunion, we invited every class member to get up and take the microphone and tell a little bit about what had happened in their life since graduation from high school. We invited a dear lady who was one of those teachers that everybody in the class knew and liked. She was getting to be an elderly person at that point. Her daughter, who happened to be a medical doctor, drove her out from Minneapolis and stayed with her through the whole evening. We had a reception the next day, and at that reception, the lady’s daughter was there again. I got into a conversation with her, and she said, “That program last night was just a memorable thing for me because each of you got up and started saying, ‘I joined the Navy,’ or ‘I joined the Army,’ or ‘I joined the Marine Corps’, or the girls said that they took a job or they joined the service or that they got married and their husb
|Charlie Brown, one of many|
Sherburne County residents
to serve in the war. Brown was
killed in Europe, 1944
and went into the service.” She said that she realized that the war had an effect on everybody and changed their lives, but it had never come true to her so clearly until she heard each one of these high school graduates begin to tell their story, and, because it was a wartime story, she realized that the war had a real effect on everybody, and it changed everybody’s life.”
For Babcock, wartime service meant joining the Naval ROTC while at the University of Minnesota. Later, he served aboard a troop ship in the Pacific theatre of the war. “I finally was commissioned in December 1943 at the university, and I’d never been on a ship, but I was commissioned as an ensign,” he remembered. “I was assigned to a cargo ship, the Alnitah, the AK127. It was essentially a liberty ship, a ship that had been built in a hurry. There were many of them constructed. This particular one that I was assigned to was designed to carry troops. They weren’t carried in much style. “
“I was in Pearl Harbor the night the war ended,” Babcock said. “Coupled with the end of the war was the announcement of the atomic bomb and the damage in Japan and Nagasaki. This was another one of those events that you never forget. You remember where you were and when you heard about it. Somehow, it sticks with you.”
With the end of the war, Babcock returned to the University of Minnesota, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a law degree. And, as his reminisces make clear, World War Two impacted everyone in Sherburne County.