78 years ago; the Greatest Generation
My brother and I were new at Denver University. It was Sunday, we had just stepped out of a theater when a reporter held a microphone near me asking, “Japan has just bombed Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt has called today a ‘day of infamy’ and is declaring war with Japan. How long do you think it will last?”
The German army and air force were attacking sovereign nations at leisure. News of war was constant with current events including Japan’s threat. I answered, “America is gearing up. The Japanese attack surprises me. I think when America is ready, retaliation will be swift and overcoming. My guess, including the Nazi war, will be four to five years.” At the time, Germany’s aggression dominated world retaliation.
During that historic period, war meant total destruction, including the demise of civilians as well as military personnel. Following Roosevelt, President Truman ended the war with Japan in predicted years by sending U.S. Air Force B29s over the Japanese cities Nagasaki and Hiroshima with bombs rendering total demolition, including all life. War throughout the world ended abruptly.
Credit Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation,” whose enormous sacrifices, both military and civilian, preserved America’s liberties, freedoms and traditions.
Food supplies were scarce, so substitutes were born. Clothing was limited, so synthetics were created; manufacture of family cars stalled; rationing of fuel; extended work hours; schools short of teachers and books; the best of young men gone to war, where over 500,000 died. Women staffed munitions and aircraft factories and most services including military and civilian medical facilities. Every aspect of life was affected. Both old and very young did what they could to solve problems at home and help far-off battlefields secure free nations.
Today few people know equal patriotism.