Those soldiers, the vast majority of whom had never set foot on the islands of Hawaii or knew any of the 2,340 men killed in the attack, were not directly affected or threatened by the Japanese assault. Yet they signed up to protect their fellow citizens and their nation.
The patriotism of these recruits, their sense of community, and courage, brought them together to volunteer to risk their lives in ways they could hardly foresee. An attack on one was considered an attack on all.
This sense of community was necessary for our freedom and liberty to survive. Rightly called “the Greatest Generation,” America's World War II soldiers fought the “axis of evil” of their day and won. When they came home, they were duly celebrated, then went back to their individual lives. The bond they formed was between individuals, brothers-in-arms.
It was a bond only people who have been through something like war can experience. That sense of brotherhood was necessary for them to survive the horrors they encountered. When they returned, they were changed as individuals, but they did not seek to impose the conformity and discipline of military life onto their civilian communities.
The war could not have been won without the sense of community and responsibility that emerges spontaneously whenever America is attacked. And we would not be honoring our WWII veterans properly today without individuals coming together as they do in volunteer projects such as the Honor Flight Network.
With an estimated 640 WWII veterans dying each day, “our time to express our thanks to these brave men and women is running out,” the HFN website notes. Let’s hope that this Veterans’ Day will prompt more Americans to emulate that spirit which has so nobly carried us through good times and bad.