Aug. 15 of this year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
“Yesterday, December 7th 1941, a date which will live in infamy.”
These opening words were spoken by President Roosevelt in an address to Congress.
It was a declaration of war against the Empire of Japan, for their attack on Pearl Harbor.
Through the eyes of a six year old, I didn’t understand the meaning of war.
However, I soon realized the dangers of war and its impact on America.
WW-2 brought Americans together for one common cause — defeating the Axis: Japan, Germany and Italy.
We did everything on the home front to support our fighting men and women.
No sacrifice was too great. Everyone contributed to the war effort.
My dad worked at Westinghouse and mom worked graveyard at the Orange Roller Bearing factory near the Edison laboratory. We lived in New Jersey.
John Basilone, a Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor for valor at Guadalcanal, spoke in my home town to raise money for war bonds.
He too, was from New Jersey.
Sadly, he was killed in action in 1945 at Iwo Jima. Today, Basilone Road, on I-5 at Camp Pendleton is named in his honor.
I did what little I could to help in the war effort.
I collected scrap metal, rubber boots, tin foil and tires to sell to the junk man.
There was meatless Tuesday, ration stamps and little blue and red tokens.
Almost everything was rationed and very scarce.
Among these were, nylon stockings, sugar, tires, gasoline, shoes, double bubble gum and butter.
Everyday at school, we read from the book of Psalms, saluted the flag and sang God Bless America.
The most feared man in America was the Western Union man.
When he rode his bicycle down your street, you prayed he wouldn’t knock on your door.
His job was to deliver telegrams from the war department.
That was how people were notified of their loved one being either wounded, missing or killed in action.
I saw too many gold star pennants hanging in peoples windows. More than 400,000 of our military were killed during the war.
President Truman gave the go ahead to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.
In those days there was no such thing as political correctness.
It was something that had to be done and we did it.
Many people, even today, say it was the wrong decision. My brother fought in Belgium and Germany.
When the war ended in Europe in May 1945, he and thousands of others were to be sent to the Pacific for the invasion on Kyushu, Japan.
That invasion was scheduled for November.
The atomic bomb saved his life and the lives of thousands of American soldiers and Marines and yes, Japanese civilians.
For America, the war lasted about 3 1/2 years.
Admiral Nimitz, General Eisenhower and General McArthur were just what this country needed for military leaders, to lead us to victory. God Bless them and all those heroes that made it the greatest victory for America and the world.
Almost all of them are no longer with us. But their duty to country, courage and sacrifice will not be forgotten.
When I see statues of great Americans, torn down by fools, then I must say, this is not the same America I once knew.
Russell Roof, Yucaipa