My parents spoke often of the shock of learning of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. It was an event which brought the United States into the war and which defined their entire generation.
Throughout the years I have been privileged to talk with several men who were at Pearl Harbor the morning of the attack. To a man they expressed the same reaction: Initial shock, increasing anger and a desire for revenge, then relief and thankfulness for their own personal survival, followed by the grim realization that a long and bloody war had only just begun.
My father was an FBI agent during the war and spent his time monitoring various points of entry into the US (mostly cargo ports in Philadelphia, Miami, but also the US/Mexico border near El Paso). For him, the war years were tedious and routine, but he saw his work as necessary and important.
My father-in-law, a rancher from a small town in Nebraska, served in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific Theater. He lived his entire post-war life in the shadow his war experience. He saw things men should never see and had some wonderful stories to tell about his South Pacific adventures. Throughout his life he stayed in touch with the men of his bombardment group (he serviced the B-24s his group flew into combat). His war service defined him.
The greatest generation of citizen soldiers won that war against the forces of fascism and totalitarianism. They were better men than I, and sadly, their number declines by the day. But sixty-nine years ago, their world changed. And so did ours. Lets not forget them, nor their service and sacrifice.