A touching cartoon by Jeff Parker appeared in many local papers today (it will be online at Florida Today, tomorrow). It shows a puzzled young couple watching an elderly man, in polo shirt, but with military cap and medals, tossing a wreath off the deck of a ship, titled "Pearl Harbor Today - Never Forget". But the man is fading away.
My father, aged 90, enlisted in the Army in November 1942. He was 20. He served more than three years in the War of the Pacific. He stayed behind for the "plus six months, at the discretion of the President" that appears on his enlistment papers, which delayed my parents' marriage until springtime in 1946. The youngest veterans of World War II, who enlisted late in the war at age 18 (or 17 and a half with permission) are now 85. There aren't many left.
Another man, now deceased, enlisted a few months earlier in the Japanese navy. He served about as long, on a supply ship, so he saw little action, according to his brother (the brother was considerably more talkative about the War). He is my wife's father. I wish the two former adversaries could have met, but old "papa-San" died at age 86, about ten years ago.
The young people of the USA and Japan (and equally of Europe and Russia), if they even know WW2 happened, consider it ancient history, in nearly the same category as the fall of Rome or Troy. Once another generation passes, and the last veteran of the war passes on at some age like 105, will "Pearl Harbor Day" even appear on calendars any more? "V-E Day" and "V-J Day" were dropped years ago...