Shortly after World War II began in 1941, my 7-year-old buddies and I learned a really cool word from the movies.

We learned it from the movies about the French commandoes who would huddle early in the movie to “synchronize their watches” for the attack on the Nazi tanks.

Synchronize had the right kind of ring to it. It sounded militaristic, and one had to be a good commando to synchronize a watch.

Of course no one in our squad really had a watch, except for a couple of “play watches.”

We were highly efficient “synchronizers,” who destroyed those Panzer tanks, normally attacking in the dawn’s early light.

Yet another militaristic phrase was “mail call” for us G.I. Joes. And we all knew how to “chow down” with our mess kits.

We also yelled a lot of battle cries because we thought that’s what soldiers did. “Geronimo” was a favorite yell as we charged into battle.

The word I remembered from the Korean War was that some people called it a conflict, not a war.

And that some people got “brainwashed” during this conflict.

“Brainwashed” has become firmly established as a process that has caused a person to think differently about the reality of a situation.

Republicans often charge that Democrats have been “brainwashed.”

And Democrats insist that the Republicans were equally “brainwashed.”

Members of the Tea Party appear to be so fed up that they’re “discombobulated.”

And I haven’t even had a chance to study some of the books recently written about World War I.

I’ve got some reading to do.

Please be patient.

Gillis Morgan is an associate professor emeritus of journalism at Auburn University and an award-winning columnist. He can be reached at