Our opinion: Heroes one and all

Regular readers of the Times Observer will notice something missing in today’s paper.

There is no story about World War II through the eyes of a local veteran. For six months – 24 Mondays – we have presented the words of veterans who served in the most massive conflict the world has ever known.

Their stories are priceless, no matter what their role.

These people are leaving us quickly, and our only regret in the hundreds of hours we have devoted to listening to them and telling their stories, is that so many of them are lost to time. It has been our extreme pleasure to have had the opportunity to talk to these members of America’s “Greatest Generation.”

It has solidified our belief that even that designation, coined by journalist Tom Brokaw for the title of his book, may not adequately express the feeling our reporters brought away from their interviews.

While the harrowing experiences of battle pique our interest the way an action film glues us to the screen, the stories of those who served in a support role are just as important, for without their service the war might not have come to the conclusion it did.

In all of the cases, men and women left their homes, their families and their security for the unknown; and between 1939 and 1945, there was a great deal of unknown in the world, all of it dangerous.

As much as their war stories captivated us, it was their humble and matter-of-fact acknowledgement of their roles that impressed us even more. Tossed from the Great Depression into a war that circled the globe, with no pre-determined end, they returned to get on with “normal” lives as quickly as they could. They went back to work earning a living, raising families, thrilling over grandchildren, the things we can take for granted because hundreds of thousands of Americans put their lives on hold or lost their lives so that America could be spared the carnage that enveloped the world.