The Men and Women who Won World War II
Letter from the Editor
by Tim Holbert
For the past six years, on a date marking the anniversary of an important event in World War II, the world has somberly looked back and remembered what had happened 60 years previous. On September 1, 1999, we remembered Hitlerâ€™s invasion of Poland, which triggered World War II. December 7, 2001 marked the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. On June 6 of 2004, we paused to honor the men who stormed the beaches on D-Day. This year, we celebrate V-E and V-J Day, and remember the men and women who brought about the Allied victory in World War II.
Such anniversaries have taken place each decade since the end of the war. But these 60th anniversaries come at a time when America is losing its World War II veterans at a higher rate than ever before. When the world notes the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Anzio, D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, and Iwo Jima, very few of those who witnessed the events first-hand will remain, leaving the history of World War II truly consigned to the history books.
But while we still have our veterans with us, it is important to make sure that their stories are entered into the history books in the first place. There have been promising signs in recent years that suggest that Americans have gained a new appreciation for the sacrifices made by those who fought, and died, in World War II. There has been a resurgence in films depicting the heroism of our fighting men of World War II, most notably with the successes of Saving Private Ryan and â€œBand of Brothers.â€ Popular books on World War II line the shelves of bookstores. And of course, the National World War II Memorial has finally been dedicated in the nationâ€™s capital.
We can only hope that the momentum of building interest in World War II continues, especially after there are no more anniversaries to mark and most of our veterans have left us. And while Americansâ€™ interest in the history of World War II has grown, there is still much work to be done. Most veterans are aware of a very unfortunate fact: most of todayâ€™s schools offer little instruction on the importance of World War II, and what they do offer is often skewed to fit a politically correct mold. For future generations to carry on the legacy of the World War II generation, they must be given a proper perspective on why the war was fought and who the men and women were that ultimately won it.
For over a decade, the World War II Veterans Committee has worked to bring the legacy of the Greatest Generation to later generations. Through its various speaker programs, the Committee has given young people an opportunity to meet some of Americaâ€™s greatest heroes, and learn first-hand about what it took to achieve victory. The Committeeâ€™s oral history program has preserved the stories of veterans, so that they can be heard for decades to come. Recently, the Committee has instituted the National Memorial Day Parade, bringing attention to Americaâ€™s servicemen and women from around the country. And the Committeeâ€™s upcoming comprehensive World War II Curriculum seeks to give high school teachers a valuable tool in teaching the true history of the Second World War.
The signature event of the World War II Veterans Committee is its annual conference, this year to be held from November 10-12 in Washington, DC. Each year, veterans from around the country gather to meet with high school and college students, fellow veterans, and an interested public in a weekend devoted to learning about the history of World War II. Citizens of all ages are welcome at the event, which will feature many of Americaâ€™s greatest living World War II veterans.
This issue of World War II Chronicles is devoted entirely to the Committeeâ€™s upcoming Eighth Annual Conference, with articles written by veterans who will be appearing to tell their stories. And, as always, it is dedicated to those who fought, and died, to preserve the freedoms which we enjoy today.