This edition of Heavy Metal takes you into the world of philanthropy, the heroism of the Greatest Generation and some notable people news in the plastics machinery sector.
Let's start with the 75th anniversary of D-Day, today, June 6. The D-Day invasion at Normandy, France, changed the tide of World War II, as the beginning of the liberation of Europe from Hitler and the Nazi forces. It cost the lives of more than 4,000 Allied troops — and the actual number could be much higher, but is lost to the passing of history.
In today's polarized world, it's hard to imagine that type of unity of purpose, that devotion to a greater cause, that level of sacrifice. America experienced it after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, 18 years ago — our generation's version of Pearl Harbor. Sadly, it didn't last very long.
The Greatest Generation that fought World War II indeed, all Americans who planted victory gardens, recycled tires, cans and newspapers, and supported the troops — waged a sustained, years-long effort.
So today, especially, talk to a veteran. If you can speak directly to a World War II vet, you're very lucky, since several hundred pass away every day. Watch the movie "Saving Private Ryan," which opens with a graphic half-hour portrayal of D-Day.
You're reading this on the website of Plastics News. So what does this have to do with plastics? I had the honor of covering the role of plastics in WWII, in our special report on the Society of Plastics Engineers' 50th anniversary back in 1992. SPE itself was founded in 1942 in Detroit, not long after Pearl Harbor. The mission was urgent. Plastics was still pretty new, but U.S. companies churned out blow molded canteens, windshields on warplanes, vinyl raincoats, helmet liners and more.
Charles W. Kleiderer told me how he helped a team of Navy researchers develop something called a proximity fuze. He was a plastics guy on the project, charged with finding molders to make the parts. The fuze fit on the end of a rocket, missile or bomb, creating a "radio shell," which exploded while passing close to the target, before actual impact, increasing the odds of a destructive hit.
Kleiderer died in 1999. He is a member of the Plastics Hall of Fame.