This afternoon I spent another hour with our World War II veterans and three classes as part of our Lest We Forget series. While we get less questions in with a panel format, I think the varied perspective from the different branches of the military, as well as both the Pacific and European fronts, provides a broader understanding to our students. I also like the interaction among the veterans as they share their stories. I think the pictures I captured today give you a little of the idea.
Here’s a sampling of the questions from the students today:
- What was your first day in the service like?
- I’ve read a lot about General Patton. I know many men admired him. How did you feel about him and the men you served under?
- Before Pearl Harbor we were neutral. Do you think we should have gotten involved earlier? This was a misconception that our veterans clarified for the students. One of our veterans helped prepare supplies for the war before Pearl Harbor.
- Do you think we were prepared for the war when we entered it?
- I’m sure you were sad when your friends were dying. How did you feel when your enemies were dying?
- What was your reaction when you heard about Germany’s surrender?
- What was your favorite part of the service? Coming home! You should have seen them all light up with smiles at this question!
- What weapon do you think was the most influential in the war?
- Do you think the film Pearl Harbor is historically accurate?
- What were the living conditions like during the war? One of our veterans has a story of how the kangaroos knocked over their tents at night in Australia.
- What kept you going through the war?
Each session with our World War II veterans is more poignant than the last. After the session, we reminisced about one of the panel members who is no longer with us. It was hard to say goodbye, wondering who would be missing at our next session in December. Yet they appreciate the opportunity, and so do the students. It’s so important to keep telling these stories. The veterans are grateful for young people’s interest in history.