Every once in a while when I’m driving my truck I pause to think of where it came from.
Well, Japan, obviously. Toyota made their name in the US off of their truck, mainly. Basically indestructible, perfect for its purpose: Mine has 205,000 miles on it and runs like new. Many millions of Americans were sold on Toyota thanks to that one product — their pickup.
But I’m talking about where my truck in particular came from. I bought it from a friend of mine. It was a hand-me-down given to him by his late father. His father happened to be a highly decorated hero from World War 2. He was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne who on D-Day landed in the vicinity of where this happened:
That guy on the church was kinda stuck there until someone got him down. But Sergeant Dan Georgevich was on the ground the whole time. He suffered a rough landing and broke a few bones. He scrambled to pull some guys out of a crashed glider while shooting back at Germans. He ignored his broken bones, and the bullet wound in his face.
He was hospitalized, returned to duty, and jumped at least once more. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He helped liberate a death camp. He was basically indestructible, too.
And so maybe it made sense for him to have ended up with the Toyota at some point. This was despite a post-war career spent at Ford on their assembly line in Chicago. He had seen first-hand what went into the Fords of the day. It made him choose a Toyota instead, even though he got no employee discount that way.
I think what brings this to mind are the angry proclamations by people who wear their patriotism on bumper stickers, and who throw around vitriol about “America First” and what have you in a tizzy of chicken-hawk pride.
This man — this war hero whom you can at least partially thank that you don’t need to Sprechen Deutsch (if you want to put it that way) had no use for petty symbols of patriotism based on consumption. He chose what worked, even though it came from a former Axis country that had done everything it could to undermine the American auto industry that paid his bills through the 70s and 80s.
He chose what worked.
He was a member of the Toyota generation.