Americans at War

Americans at War

Americans at War

Americans at War

Excerpt

My experiences with the military have been as an observer. The only time I wore a uniform was in naval ROTC as a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, and in army ROTC as a sophomore. I was in second grade when the United States entered World War II, in sixth grade when the war ended. When I graduated from high school in 1953 I expected to go into the army, but within a month the Korean War ended and I went to college instead. Upon graduation in 1957 I went straight to graduate school. By the time America was again at war, in 1964, I was twenty-eight years old and the father of five children. So I never served.

But I have admired and respected the men who did fight since my childhood. When I was in grade school, World War II dominated my life. My father was a navy doctor in the Pacific. My mother worked in a pea cannery, beside German POWs (Africa Corps troops captured in Tunisia in May 1943). Along with my brothers -- Harry, two years older, and Bill, two years younger -- I went to the movies three times a week (ten cents six nights a week, twenty-five cents on Saturday night), not to see the films, which were generally real clinkers, but to see the newsreels, which were almost exclusively about the fighting in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific. We played at war constantly: "Japs" vs. marines, GIs vs. "Krauts."

In high school, I got hooked on Napoleon. I read various biographies and studied his campaigns. As a seventeen-year-old freshman, in naval ROTC, I took . . .

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