Leonardo from Holland Park School has been chatting to his Grandmother about World War II and has documented how lucky subsequent generations have been with their quality of life and fortune.

Not too long ago, I talked to my grandparents, a couple who had lived partially through the war; lived through the cold war; 9/11; witnessed friends die and had to leave school to sustain her family. After talking to them about their stories, I realised that despite all the dreadful events that had occurred, it still did not prevent them from smiling and enjoying life, and how different their way of living was to my own.

My grandma lived in the countryside with their family as a child. She recalls having very little time to play as she, along with her other sister, helped her grandma do chores, at the time they had no washing machine or dishwasher so everything was manual. Furthermore, there was no running water and therefore only washed once a week, sharing the same water with her sister and grandmother. During the war, she and her family were in a school basement protected from the bombs, but one had managed to explode the school and my grandma and her family were trapped inside debris. When they managed to escape, my small grandma, at the mere age of 4, was exposed to the reality of war: people were bleeding, crying, dying. Her family had evacuated, and, after the war, her family returned to the small town. My great-grandpa reapplied for his job but was callously denied because he had evacuated from his own safety instead of keeping on at work and risking his life. By that time my grandma was 16 and had to leave her education and started to work arduously. She was under constant pressure to put food on the table. When I asked her how she felt, she said, “It was hard, but I had to face life sooner or later and regarded it as my duty.” If the archetypal teenager of the 21st century were to be put in the same situation, he/she would ask for help instead of helping. This is probably because most of the young generation are left with less responsibility at a young age and therefore are less prepared for the hardships and reality of life. Nevertheless, she married my grandpa at the age of 28 when he was 24 and a half years old, whereas now many marry later and have children at even an older age.

My grandpa had been in a similar position: when his father died in a car incident, my grandpa was the oldest of five brothers. This brought awareness and responsibility for him and therefore he began to give help to his mother and brothers. Again, I am quite sure that the stereotypical teenager of the 21st century would seek for help instead of giving it. When he was younger, 6 years after the war at the age of 7, he was exposed to real dangers of life. One afternoon, he and his primary friends were playing in a lake; one of his friends (who was at a distance from my grandpa) had found a hand grenade. Not being able to realise what it was, the poor child threw it on a rock and exploded. This was one of the most shocking moments in his life.

It is only looking back at these moments that I realise how lucky most of the young generation are. The generation of my grandparents were happy with little whereas now if you do not have the latest technology, you are no one, and how more practical responsibility they were given at a young age that prepared them to life.


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